Police believe that, before leaving town, the crew gathered at Notarbartolo's Antwerp apartment to divvy up the loot. That afternoon, they headed out of town. About 30 miles south of Antwerp, they pulled off the highway to a remote spot where no one could see them. This was where they made their first, and biggest, mistake.
Figuring they were safe in the woods, the group left behind bags of trash. But the man whose property they left it on routinely picks up litter, and he soon found the bags containing a glove, some documents, some money and diamond envelopes. Suspicious, he called the police. But the real break in the case was found in a smaller bag inside — a grocery store receipt, a half-eaten salami sandwich and an invoice, torn into pieces, for a shipment to the Diamond Center. Police pieced it back together and found it was a document referring to Notarbartolo. There also were toll booth receipts dated shortly before the robbery from a highway used to cross the Alps from Italy on the way to Antwerp, as well as cell phone numbers traceable to Notarbartolo and a receipt from a hardware store listing items the thieves left behind in the vault.
In addition, when the detectives checked Notarbartolo's own safe deposit box in the vault, they found it was one of the few that wasn't touched. And back at his Turin home, police say they found 17 diamonds sealed in plastic, which they say matched numbered certificates left behind in the vault in Antwerp.
A Suspect, But No Answers
The evidence mounted against their Notarbartolo, and police didn't have to wait long to nab him. On the following Friday, less than a week after the crime, he walked into the Diamond Center acting as if nothing was unusual. Building security called police.
Certain that they had nothing on him, Notarbartolo gave them his address in Antwerp, where detectives found his wife and friends packing a car to leave.
"About one minute and they were gone — would have been gone," said Detective Rob Dictus. "It was the second lucky shot."
Though nearly empty, the apartment yielded more evidence, including a small diamond found in a rug and a slab of salami and bottle of wine matching the receipt found in the woods.
Notarbartolo was arrested. He remains in jail in Antwerp, awaiting trial. Under Belgian law, the maximum penalty he can receive is five years or a few more if it's proven that organized crime was involved. His lawyer, Basili Foti, concedes there is evidence indicating Notarbartolo knows something about what happened, but told ABCNEWS, "There is always a minimum and a maximum penalty … we are looking for the minimum."
Police won't reveal what, if anything, Notarbartolo has said about the crime or his accomplices — or where the diamonds are.