PARIS French police investigating the theft of nearly $10 million in jewels from Kim Kardashian arrested 17 people on Monday, including a chauffeur who drove the American reality television star around Paris in the days before the robbery.
Many of those arrested in coordinated police raids in several different parts of France were known underworld figures aged around 50 and at least three were women, police and judicial sources said.
French radio and TV reports on Monday said DNA traces from the scene of the heist led police to the suspects and that they would be held for questioning, possibly for as much as four days.
A police source said one of those detained was Kardashian's chauffeur when she was visiting Paris in October for Fashion Week and that police were trying to establish whether he had passed on information to the gang.
Kardashian, 36, was photographed frequently while on the Paris trip, attending fashion shows and parties. She also posted numerous pictures to her social media accounts.
Jean Veil, a French lawyer for Kardashian, told France 2 television: "She (Kardashian) is very happy, very satisfied and to a certain extent reassured by the efficiency of the French police."
Thieves wearing ski masks and clothes with police markings burst into the luxury property where Kardashian, who is married to U.S rap star Kanye West, was sleeping in the early hours of Oct. 3. They tied her up at gunpoint before making off with her engagement ring and other jewels, police said at the time. They fled on bicycles with jewellery worth 9 million euros ($9.5 million).
Kardashian was badly shaken but physically unharmed. She has mostly since kept a low public profile but broke her silence on the robbery in a promotional clip for the upcoming season of her reality TV show "Keeping Up With the Kardashians," which was released on Friday.
"They're going to shoot me in the back. There's no way out," a tearful Kardashian tells her family, recalling the robbery. "It makes me so upset to think about it."
The robbery made world headlines and unwanted publicity for one of the world's most visited cities, where hotels and the wider tourist sector have struggled to make a comeback commercially after deadly attacks by Islamic militants in 2015.
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(Reporting by Simon Carraud and Andrew Callus in Paris and Matthias Galante in Nice; Additional reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy in Los Angeles; Writing by Brian Love; Editing by Richard Balmforth and Bill Trott)