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Europe

Eight charged over Bosnian pickpocket ring in France

media Paris's Châtelet metro station AFP/ BERTRAND GUAY

Bosnian prosecutors have charged eight men accused of running a pickpocketing ring in France that brought them nearly three million euros. They are alleged to have forced women and children to steal for them with threats to their life and safety.

The men, seven of whom are Bosnian and one of undisclosed nationality, have been charged with participating in organised crime, people trafficking, fraud, money laundering and theft.

They are aged between 24 and 61 and one is a local council worker.

The proceeds from their activities alllowed them to buy luxury cars, real estate and drugs.

They are believed to have recruited women and children, provided them with fake passports and forced them to spend their days picking people's pockets, mainly in museums and on the metro in Paris and other cities.

A former employee of the French embassy in Bosnia was fined in connection with the same case last year, the prosecutors' office told the AFP news agency.

Previous gang busted

In 2013 a French court sentenced Bosnian national Fehim Hamidovic to 12 years in prison for running a similiar pickpocketing ring.

His gang forced young women to steal on the metro, subjecting them to violence, such as cigarette burns, if they failed to bring in 300 euros a day.

Broken up in 2010, the gang is believed to have made 1.3 million euros in Paris in 2009 alone.

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