Algerian doorman key witness in Kim Kardashian's Paris robbery case

Published October 19th, 2016 - 08:35 GMT
The Algerian was 'exemplary' staff member for years with an unblemished record, colleagues say. (Instagram)
The Algerian was 'exemplary' staff member for years with an unblemished record, colleagues say. (Instagram)

The ‘concierge' at the centre of the £8.5million Kim Kardashian heist today broke his silence to claim that the prestigious hotel was to blame for the shocking robbery because its bosses ‘didn’t care’ about security.

The traumatised father-of-one, named only as Abdulrahman because of fears for his safety, told MailOnline he had warned Hôtel de Pourtalès that guests were vulnerable years before the attack – and even claimed that security was so lax that ’someone might die'.

In a world exclusive interview, he told MailOnline of a series of shocking security lapses, saying: ‘There was no real security at all. It’s a choice. The hotel doesn’t mind about security. We told them years and years before, you have to make a camera, you have to put [in place] a security process, about keys. Nothing was locked, there was no proper security there.’

Abdulrahman revealed that the security code for the front door of the prestigious celebrity haunt had not changed in years and that this meant 'everyone knew it'. The Mail found it had still not been changed a full two weeks after the heist and gained access to the hotel.

The 39-year-old security guard, who is working towards a doctorate at the Sorbonne university in Paris, was the only guard on duty when reality star Kim was bound, gagged and robbed at about 2.30am on October 3.

The northern Algerian was handcuffed and marched to Kim's door at gunpoint during the early-hours attack - and even forced to act as interpreter as robbers spent more than 30 minutes inside the apartment-hotel.

Today he told MailOnline of his devastation and fury at the ordeal, claiming there had been no functioning security cameras at the hotel for at least six years, that the security codes had not been changed since 2010, and that there was regularly just a single guard on duty.

In a further stunning disclosure, he said that Kim's apartment was accessed simply by a wooden door with a single Yale-type lock, with no bolt to guard against intruders. He is now planning legal action against the hotel.

An email sent by Abdulrahman to his bosses at his security company in 2010, seen by MailOnline, warns them of the dangers of the lax security at the establishment.

It can also be revealed today that the access code for the front door has still not been changed a full two weeks after the robbery, raising serious concerns about what lessons have been learned from the heist.

Over the weekend, MailOnline used the code that Abdulrahman said had not changed in six years to gain access the building, walking unchallenged all the way through to the reception area.

Two members of staff – a female concierge and a male security guard – appeared to be the only line of defence for the 11 luxury apartments regularly used by A-list celebrities.

‘I told the hotel years ago, you need better security and they didn’t mind,’ Abdulrahman said. ‘If you look at that big door, it wasn’t locked, it was open. We talked about it and nobody cared. The code of the door was never changed and everybody knew it.

‘There is a camera in the main wall of the hotel, behind the big red [front] doors, but it didn’t work for years.'

According to police sources, the hotel management had deliberately chosen not to install CCTV so that their wealthy and powerful clients would not be filmed entering with, for example, prostitutes or sensitive business associates.

The apartment block is arguably the most prestigious in Paris, and is branded ‘No Address’ because the celebrities who stay there expect utmost discretion.

‘It was No Address, no security,’ Abdulrahman said. ‘Nothing was locked, there was no proper security there.’

The Algerian national, who said he was a security guard rather than a concierge, is the key witness in the case and is breaking his anonymity for the first time.

During the robbery, he was handcuffed at gunpoint and forced to cooperate with the gang, even acting as their interpreter when they accosted the reality star in her bedroom. Afterwards, he was filled with rage at the hotel bosses.

‘Immediately afterwards, I was very angry, and the first one I blamed was the hotel,’ he said. ‘They are responsible, I think. And I still blame them now.

‘I told them, look what you did! What I told you for six years? Security cameras and other things are meant for days like today, to prevent these things from happening. If you have good guards, electronic systems to lock the doors, it can be possible to secure the hotel.

‘One day, someone might be killed. That is more important than a robbery of rocks and metal.’

Social media star Kim, 35, was bound, gagged and tied up on the floor of her bathroom in the luxury Hôtel de Pourtalès in Paris on October 3 while her bodyguard protected her sisters in a nearby nightclub. Sources have said she feared she would be raped as thieves stole gems worth £8.5million, including her £3.5m engagement ring.

Former colleagues described how Abdulrahman, a ‘loyal, hardworking and extremely intelligent employee,’ did everything he could to protect Kim.

One said: ‘[Abdulrahman] apparently did everything he could, and deserves respect for what he went through.

‘His life has been pulled apart by this, and he needs protection and help. Those of us who used to work with him want to give him that.

‘We all know that these gang members are still at large. We know that they could be looking for him. We understand that they know what he looks like, but they do not know his name.’

Sitting in a hotel room in Paris, Abdulrahman was visibly anxious as he recounted how the gangsters conned their way in.

The ordeal began at 2:35am, he recalled, when three men dressed in police uniforms appeared at the glass doors at the entrance to the building. ‘I was behind the desk. The door was closed, but it is glass and they told me to open the door, making a motion behind the door,’ he said. 

‘I saw police [uniforms], the hats, also the police jackets, with reflective badges, like the police have. I told them to open it because it was open, and he asked with gestures, he made me come to open the door. So I came to open it and just when I opened it, he grabbed me and handcuffed me.’ Two of the gang were wearing balaclavas, he added, and the third had a high collar pulled up to his eyes.

‘In the first seconds, I thought they were policemen making an intervention,’ he said. ‘I told them, I’m working here, what is wrong? After that he questioned me, where is the security video? At that time, I said sh**, it’s a robbery.’

Describing how the robbers forced him to the floor and handcuffed him, a clearly disturbed and nervous Abdulrahman said: ‘At first I looked at them and one got very angry. He asked me to put my head down and never look at him again. He repeated, never, never look at me, or I will kill you. I saw that two of them had guns, then I just looked down.'

Abdulrahman is now the key witness in the crime and could send the Kim Kardashian robbery gang to prison for life, investigating sources in Paris told MailOnline.

‘The security guard witness has clearly been through a terrible time, but his evidence is now absolutely crucial,’ said one of the sources.

‘It is only him and Kim Kardashian who have seen the robbers, but she is no longer in France to assist us. First hand, live testaments are always crucial.’

But Abdulrahman believes that police have handled the investigation badly and offered him little support. ‘I ended up having the handcuffs on until almost five in the morning because policemen did not have the ability to open them,’ he said.

‘It made me upset. The police were not very professional. They did not look after me afterwards, they didn’t offer me any counselling or anything. Psychologically, I have to repair myself.’

He added that officers had leaked confidential information he had given them during his witness statement to the media, potentially putting him in danger.

‘They told the press that I said [certain details] about the robbers’ identities,’ he said. ‘That was very dangerous for me, as it shows I gave evidence to the police.’ 

An instructing judge is now leading more than 100 judicial police and officers from the Paris criminal brigade in trying to catch the five-man gang.

This makes it one of the biggest non-fatality crime investigation in the recent history of France, a source told MailOnline.

The criminals face charges of ‘armed robbery by an organised gang, criminal conspiracy and kidnapping’ – combined offences which could lead to a sentence of 30 years.

Inmates jailed for life in France are required to serve a safety period of 18 to 22 years before they become eligible for parole.

The Hôtel de Pourtalès, so exclusive it is known as No Address France, is located in Paris' 8th district, round the corner from the British embassy. It has been listed as a historic building since the early 2000s. It contains 11 luxury apartments, which are rented out for between £750 and £15,000 a night.

Singer-songwriter Robin Thicke was staying in the hotel at the time of the robbery, MailOnline has learnt, but happened to be out when the crime took place. When he returned, the star was kept waiting in the courtyard for ‘hours’ while the police conducted their investigations.

Brant Cryder, the president of Yves Saint Laurent USA, was also in the hotel at the time of the theft, and Jennifer Lawrence had been staying there just two days before the heist.

Each apartment has custom-designed furniture by the Carpenters Workshop Gallery and renowned designer Philippe Starck.

Clients are pampered with VIP services, with butlers, cordon bleu chefs and personal shoppers available on demand.

The establishment is known to be the height of discretion, with no sign outside and a super-rich clientele including Manchester United football star Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Leonardo DiCaprio and Madonna.

After its last renovation in 2010, the late pop star Prince is said to have reserved the entire building for a party.

The building is designed to imitate an Italian palace, and was built in 1839 for a French nobleman, Count James-Alexandre de Pourtalès, as his own private art gallery, complete with its own accommodation.

In 2008, French entrepreneur Alexandre Allard bought the property together with the building next door for around £25million and converted it into the luxury residential and shopping complex that it is today. 

Both Hôtel de Pourtalès and Abdulrahman's security boss declined to comment. The police did not respond to requests for comment.

By Jake Wallis and Peter Allen

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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