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Police arrest three suspects in $15 million robbery

ROME -- Police Friday arrested two men and one woman, all Italians, wanted in the biggest bank robbery in history, a $15 million Christmas heist on Spain's posh resort area of Costa del Sol.

Police identified the three as Stefano Sbordoni, 26, Giorgio De William Pinca, 23 and Silvana Zito, 35. Anti-terrorist police said the three are all believed to be involved in right-wing extremist activities.

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Police said Ms. Zito's brother Fabio, who is in hiding, also is wanted in the robbery that took place at the exclusive beachresort of Marbella.

All three were apprehended at their Rome apartments, police said. Pinca was found in possession of $20,000, they said.

A large quantity of jewelry, including gold and pearl necklaces, bracelets, rings and other valuables worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, were found in Ms. Zito's apartment, they said.

Officers said they had been tracking the three for the last 10 days. Three Spanish agents arrived in Rome last week to help in the investigation, they said.

Although all four suspects were believed to be right-wing extremists, Sbordoni was the only one who had been arrested for a crime of a political nature. He was arrested in 1978 for assaulting a left-wing university professor and student in a central Rome bar.

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Some 200 safe deposit boxes at the Bank of Andalusia branch in the posh beach resort of Marbella were emptied by the thieves who broke through the bank wall from a vacant apartment next door during the three-day Christmas holiday.

The thieves cut into the safe deposit vault with acetylene torches and spent the weekend rifling the boxes -- taking cash, securities, jewels and art treasures belonging to the wealthy aristocrats and jet setters who frequent the resort.

Bank sources said the unofficial estimate of the value of the booty was $15 million, making it the biggest such theft in history.

The largest previous bank robbery was a $11.5 million heist in Paris in 1980.

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