Sat, Jan 01, 2011 - Page 6 News List

Swedish neo-Nazi jailed for theft of sign at Auschwitz

AFP, WARSAW

A Polish court on Thursday jailed a Swedish neo-Nazi leader for 32 months for masterminding the theft of the infamous “Arbeit macht frei” sign from the entrance to the Auschwitz death camp.

Anders Hoegstroem, 34, who originally faced up to 10 years behind bars, in November struck a plea bargain by admitting his role in the theft before the case reached court.

On Thursday, a court in Krakow accepted the 32-month prison term agreed in the plea bargain.

“He will serve the sentence in Sweden, in accordance with an agreement with Swedish justice authorities,” Polish court spokesman Rafal Lisak told reporters on Thursday after the court announced its verdict. “He will be transferred to Sweden immediately after the verdict becomes binding in seven days.”

Hoegstroem was arrested in Sweden on a Polish warrant in February on suspicion of ordering the theft of the sign from the site of the World War II death camp created by Nazi Germany in Oswiecim, southern Poland.

Polish police recovered the 5m metal sign — which means “work will set you free” in German — two days after it went missing on Dec. 18 last year. It had been chopped into three pieces.

Five Polish men were also arrested and charged with the actual theft of the sign, three of whom were sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison earlier this year.

Two others struck plea bargains along with Hoegstroem, which the court in Krakow also approved on Thursday. A man identified only as Marcin A. was sentenced to 30 months behind bars, while another named as Andrzej S. was sentenced to 28 months. Each were also fined 10,000 zloty (US$3,340).

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