A policeman pulls an oxygen bottle from the sewers in Nice in 1976, days after the robbery.
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The suspected mastermind of France's "heist of the century" went on trial Monday, nearly half a century after robbers tunneled through sewers to snatch today's equivalent of 29 million euros ($36 million) from a bank vault. The 1976 robbery at a Societe Generale branch in the southern city of Nice confounded the police for decades. Only one person was ever charged with the crime, with most of the gang disappearing, and the loot – 46 million francs – was never found.He used a pen name but investigators quickly concluded the writer was Jacques Cassandri, a key mafia figure in Marseille, where he is now standing trial.He had assumed he was safe because the crime was too old to be prosecuted, but Cassandri is being charged with laundering the millions from the heist – a crime for which France has no statute of limitations.
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