Major wine bottle theft trail starts today

A total of 23 witnesses, 4 experts and the 2 defendants (Constantin Dumitru and Priscila Lara Guevara) will testify in the trial of the theft of wine bottles from the Atrio de Cáceres restaurant, which begins today at the courts in the capital of Cáceres.

A pre-trail hearing intends to see if both parties can reach an agreement that would prevent the trial from taking place. If this is not the case, the trial will take place over two days in which an attempt will be made to find out what happened in October 2021 when one of the most publicised robberies in the city took place.

In fact, some twenty media have been accredited to follow the trial and among them is the British newspaper Daily Mail and an audiovisual production company that plans to make a documentary about the theft of the 45 bottles of wine, valued at more than 1.64 million euro.

It should be remembered that the Court of First Instance number 4 of Cáceres, which has investigated the case, issued an order on January 9 ordering the opening of an oral trial against the two accused of the robbery, who are still in provisional prison.

The Prosecutor’s Office has requested a sentence of four years and six months in prison for both whom it considers co-authors of a crime of robbery with force in a public establishment that is especially serious due to the high value of the stolen objects.

The qualification document presented before the court states that the couple, “by mutual agreement” and guided by “profit motives”, stayed on October 26, 2021 at the Hotel Atrio de Cáceres with the intention of being able to access their winery and get high value wines. Among them was a bottle of Chateau d’YQuem 1806, valued at 350,000 euro.

After dinner at the hotel restaurant, the couple took a guided tour of the establishment’s winery, and at around 12:20 a.m. they went up to their room, according to the letter from the Prosecutor’s Office.

In execution of the previously hatched plan, “around 02:10 on October 27, the defendant called reception, asking for a salad and asking how long it would take to be served,” according to the indictment.

The front desk clerk told the woman that he was alone and that it would take about 10 minutes to get the salad to her. The defendant then took advantage of that moment to go to the reception and get an electronic key “with which he went to the cellar”, but he could not open it because it was not “the right key”.

Thus, the worker returned to reception after bringing the salad up to the woman, and minutes later she called again to ask for a dessert.

Then, her companion “again went to the reception where he seized the master key, opening the winery with it and accessing the tasting room where he seized bottles of wine valued at 1,648,000 euro”. Finally, around 06:00 in the morning, the couple left the hotel, taking the bottles with them in various bags, as shown in the images from the hotel’s security cameras.

The defendants, a 48-year-old man of Romanian and Dutch nationality and a 29-year-old woman of Mexican nationality, were arrested in July 2022 at the Croatian border while trying to enter the country by car.

A few days later they were transferred to Spain to testify before the judge who ordered their entry into pretrial detention without bail in the Cáceres prison, where they have been awaiting trial ever since.