Swede strikes plea deal for Auschwitz theft
Published: 25 Nov 2010 18:24 GMT+01:00
Updated: 25 Nov 2010 18:24 GMT+01:00
A Swedish neo-Nazi leader accused of ordering the theft of the Auschwitz death camp entrance sign will serve 32 months behind bars in his homeland under a plea bargain, Polish prosecutors said Thursday.
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- Second Swede sought over Auschwitz theft (10 Jun 10)
Anders Högström, who had risked up to 10 years behind bars if convicted in Poland of masterminding the theft, admitted his role before the case reached court, said a spokesman for the prosecutors' office in the city of Krakow.
"After having pleaded not guilty during the investigation, Högström admitted his guilt," prosecutor Robert Parys told AFP.
"Under a plea bargain with prosecutors, he accepted a penalty of two years and eight months in prison. He will serve his sentence in Sweden."
Högström was arrested in Sweden on a Polish warrant in February on suspicion of ordering the theft of the infamous "Arbeit macht frei" sign from the site of the World War II Nazi camp in the southern Polish city of Oswiecim.
Polish police recovered the five-metre metal sign -- which means "Work Will Set You Free" in German -- two days after it went missing late last year. It had been chopped into three pieces.
Five Polish men were arrested and charged with the actual theft of the sign, three of whom have already been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison.
The two others are still to face trial.
In 1994, Högström founded the National Socialist Front, a Swedish neo-Nazi movement he ran for five years before quitting.
He told Swedish media he was to act as an intermediary to pick up the sign and sell it to a buyer, adding however that he informed Polish police about the people behind the plot.
Of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust, one million were murdered at Auschwitz, mostly in the camp's notorious gas chambers, along with tens of thousands of others including Poles, Roma and Soviet prisoners of war.