The O. brothers are apparently old hands at taking advantage of being twins. Both have criminal records, having made criminal use in the past of their identical appearance. The German tabloid Bild cited an anonymous "friend" of the brothers, who claimed the two had "shared" community service hours, with "one brother showing up in place of the second." And if one of them lost his driver's license, he just used his brother's. "That was probably the case," police commented.
Der Tagesspiegel reported that the State Office of Criminal Investigation (LKA) had matched the height, weight and stature of the suspects with that of the figures captured on KaDeWe's security cameras. Presumably, they hope to secure their case independently of the DNA evidence. A spokesperson for the Berlin Public Prosecutor's office would not comment.
Exactly 20 years to the day prior to the KaDeWe heist, German officials rejected the twins' applications for asylum. According to information obtained by SPIEGEL ONLINE, the O. brothers, born in 1982, came to Germany at the age of one. After their bids for asylum were denied in 1989, each had his permission to stay regularly extended -- for 20 years. The brothers also obtained "Fremdenpässe," passports issued to foreigners, because their professed homeland of Lebanon apparently refused to give them papers.
On Feb. 5, 2009, almost two weeks after the KaDeWe break-in, Hassan O. applied for residence. His brother Abbas received an expulsion order on Feb. 2.
Hassan O., who was first held in Hanover, was transferred to a jail in Berlin's Moabit district on Tuesday, Feb. 17. His brother Abbas, who was first held in Lüneberg, was scheduled to arrive in Berlin on Wednesday.
According to local press reports, the siblings belong to a Kurdish-Lebanese gang, which has previously gained notoriety for attempted murder, as well as break-ins and knife attacks. The Berliner Zeitung also reported that their extended family includes the 19-year-old offender who ran into and killed a senior citizen with a stolen BMW at Berlin's Potsdamer Platz last October.