• Sweden edition
 
Looted Viking treasure trial gets under way

Looted Viking treasure trial gets under way

Published: 04 May 2011 12:18 GMT+02:00
Updated: 04 May 2011 12:18 GMT+02:00

Wednesday marked the first day in a groundbreaking trial against five men charged with aggravated crime against relics following the theft of over 1,000 silver coins and artefacts from the Viking age on the Baltic island of Gotland.

The court will reconvene on six occasions and it is the first time in Sweden that anyone is charged with aggravated crime against relics.

“That’s why this trial is important for the whole of Sweden”, said Majvor Östergren, archaeological administrator of Gotland's county administrative board, to local paper Gotlandstidningen.

In November last year the police recovered a silver treasure dating back to the 11th century stolen from a field in Gandarve, Alva on Gotland in 2009.

The treasure comprised over 2,000 silver coins from Germany, England and the Arab world and its value has been estimated at 1.2 million kronor ($198,181).

The County Administrative Board (Länsstyrelsen) had discovered the unauthorized dig comprising 250 pits in a field in October 2009.

After a preliminary investigation silver coins and part of an 11th century crucifix was found in the ground near the looters’ dig.

“That’s when we realized that this was a completed crime against relics. And in this case you really must say that lady luck was with us,” the prosecutor said at the opening of trial.

Since traces of looters are usually rained or cleared away, it is often very difficult to both detect and solve these kinds of crimes.

The suspects were linked to the crime scene by the remarkable discovery of the broken crucifix.

Several days after finding the dig, an email was discovered by chance with a photo of a part of a crucifix up for sale.

It was sold to a man from southern Sweden and was later discovered in his home.

The trail led Police back to a well-known coin dealer in Stockholm.

During a raid on his property on Gotland, investigators came across muddy clothes, metal detectors, shovels, backpacks and a car especially equipped with night vision.

After examining computers and GPS equipment, police also found links between the defendants and two other places where looters had struck on Gotland.

Wednesday's trial is important because it is the first time since the laws on relics were made more strict in the 1990’s that one of these cases have been brought to trial.

“We have seen many investigations over the past few years that have had to be dropped due to lack of evidence,“ said local police officer Mikael Åslund to daily Dagens Nyheter (DN)

In 2009 there were 18 reports of unauthorized digging on Gotland, three of which are part of the prosecution’s evidence in the ongoing trial against the five men.

But since the police apprehended the looters in November 2009, there have been no more reports.

“It is our feeling that looters have gone under ground, “ Östergren told DN.

Landowners in Sweden that discover ancient artefacts are awarded a finders fee in reward for turning them in to authorities. According to Östergren this is very important.

“Scientists from all over the world come to Gotland to study our findings, “ Östergren told DN.

The charges the defendants face include preparation of aggravated crime against relics and aggravated crime against relics, which carries a penalty of up to four years in prison.

The defendants have denied the charges.

Rebecca Martin (rebecca.martin@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

13:43 May 4, 2011 by HYBRED
It's somewhat ironic. As much as the Vikings robbed and stole, someone gets arrested for stealing their stuff. I thought it was "finders keepers...".
15:08 May 4, 2011 by Elvine
Yes, some of they Vikings were pirates and robbed, raided and raped, but they were also explorers, settlers and merchants.
15:29 May 4, 2011 by Swedesmith
"It is our feeling that looters have gone under ground, " Östergren told DN

Ha ha, that's a good one.
16:01 May 4, 2011 by HYBRED
Maybe the "explorers, settlers and merchants", did money laundering for the rest.
21:20 May 4, 2011 by Tanskalainen
Did they find the King's birth certificate?
20:04 May 5, 2011 by trooper1953
We are at it again..It's alright for countries to steal and rob other cultures ...but little guys can't. The queen of england's crown and jewels are blood and slave diamonds, will she be proscueted for recieving stolen diamonds? Will any of the governments whose vast riches are from conquest be proscuted?
19:01 May 6, 2011 by munched
Bob Dylan said it best: "Steal a little and they throw you in jail. Steal a lot and they make you king."
Today's headlines
'Baffling' Swedish raid on German sub makers
The Kockums Malmö shipyard and FMV headquarters. Files: TT

'Baffling' Swedish raid on German sub makers

After the Swedish military raided the Malmö premises of German defence giant Thyssen Krupp, a military expert tells The Local why recent Russian aggression means Sweden's Saab needs to take control of national submarine production. READ () »

Swedish kids crack adult content 'code' at school
A child, unrelated to the story, on her computer. File photo: TT

Swedish kids crack adult content 'code' at school

Swedish parents who busted their children looking at adult content online were shocked to find the kids saying 'they'd learned the code at school'. READ () »

Industry bellwether SKF recovers to turn profit
A file image of ballbearings. Photo: Shutterstock

Industry bellwether SKF recovers to turn profit

After a drab end to 2013, Swedish ballbearing makers SKF anew posted a profit in its first quarter review. It could spell good news for the manufacturing industry worldwide. READ () »

Swedish Hobbit actor jailed in cocaine case
Swedish actor Mikael Persbrandt. File photo: TT

Swedish Hobbit actor jailed in cocaine case

Swedish actor Mikael Persbrandt has appealed a five-month prison sentence, handed down on Tuesday after he was found guilty of buying cocaine. READ () »

Property of the Week
In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week
The property in Skinskatteberg. Photo: Fastighetsbyrån

In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week

The Swedish countryside is littered with small second homes, many up for a steal if you can see beyond dated wallpaper and imagine a country retreat with chanterelles and lingonberries growing in your backyard. READ () »

Puppies lost in 'black market' chihuahua raid
A chihuahua papillon crossbreed puppy. File photo: Shutterstock

Puppies lost in 'black market' chihuahua raid

Thieves escaped from a flat in Malmö on Monday with jewellery, electronics, and four chihuahua-papillon puppies. Police worry the dogs will be sold on the black market, a growing trend in Sweden. READ () »

JobTalk Sweden
Sweden's worst office clichés revealed

Sweden's worst office clichés revealed

"We have to hit the brakes and the gas at the same time." Does your Swedish boss confuse you? You're not alone. Swedes have crowned that phrase as the worst workplace cliché of the year. READ () »

More Swedes want to join Nato

More Swedes want to join Nato

Almost one in three Swedes support joining Nato, compared with just 17 percent in 2013, a survey revealed on Tuesday. The sentiment was echoed by the Finnish Prime Minister. READ () »

Elections 2014
Is the PM overstaying his welcome?
Kinberg Batra (L) next to the prime minister. File photo: TT

Is the PM overstaying his welcome?

Seen both as a statesman and a normal guy, Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt has a solid standing, despite his government's poor poll ratings. But have the Moderates prepared for life post-Reinfeldt? And does his successor matter to the voters? READ () »

Op-Ed
'Six-hour work day will hurt Sweden'

'Six-hour work day will hurt Sweden'

The six hour workday would punish employers who already struggle to find competent staff. And if parts of the economy slow down, so will industries reliant on them, argues liberal commentator Nima Sanandaji. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Politics
Who's the prime minister's heir?
Alfie Atkins
Society
Are children's books the key to families integrating in Sweden?
National
'Sweden Dem protests cater to party's martyr image'
National
'Swedish research grants were fantastic, but now it's like Australia'
Society
Only in Sweden: The ten problems you'd never encounter elsewhere
National
Swedes stopped to take my picture, but didn't look me in the eyes
Business & Money
A swipe of the hand replaced cash and cards in Lund
YouTube
Features
Video: Oliver Gee finds out how to embrace The Swedish Hug
TT
National
Abba duo hints at reunion
Private
National
Flash mobs hug it out across Sweden
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 11-13
TT
Politics
Swedes to give six-hour workday a go
Advertisement:
TT
Society
Aussie choir member wows Abba in Sweden
YouTube
Society
Stockholm magic a surprise YouTube hit
Fastighetsbyrån
Society
Gallery: The Local's Property of the Week
Private
Society
Swedes find 200-year-old gravestone in living room
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
Why a bachelor's degree is no longer enough
Deepti Vashisht
Features
Deepti Vashisht dissects the magic of Sweden's personal ID number
Shutterstock
Society
Ten signs you've been in Sweden too long
Society
Jimi Fritze heard every word when doctors discussed taking his organs
Society
A Swedish farmer explains why the new bestiality ban is 'pointless'
Society
'Blondes have more brains': Swedish study
TT
Society
VIDEO: Leaked 'Save Slussen' film goes viral
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching, March 28-30
ESL
Sponsored Article
Learning Swedish the easy way
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Blog Update: The Diplomatic Dispatch

28 October 15:16

The Green Growth Group Summit »

"Today on the 28 October in Brussels, a large group of key EU Ministers and business people, including UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey, and Swedish Environment Minister Lena Ek, will meet to discuss green growth. They all have a stake in resolving a challenge which, although it is crucial..." READ »

721
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com