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Bank robber in custody following 'religious awakening'

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08:24 CEST+02:00
Police in western Sweden may soon be able to close their files on a daring four-year old bank robbery after one of the thieves experienced a religious salvation during his time on the run.

It was back in 2005 when men on mopeds attacked two guards and made their way into the Sparbanken Gripen in Ängelholm.

The assailants then sped off on their motorbikes with several million kronor from the bank's vaults.

Three months after the caper, an arrest warrant was issued for a 30-year-old man suspected of carrying out the daring heist.

But police ran into a number of roadblocks during the investigation's early phases, and by 2008 it looked as if the crime would remain unsolved, the Helsingborgs Dagblad (HD) newspaper reports.

But police caught a lucky break last year when the 30-year-old suspect unexpectedly contacted Sweden's embassy in Brazil, confessed to the theft, and then asked to return to Sweden to atone for his crime.

He later explained that he had had fallen in love with a Brazilian woman following the robbery. The couple then moved to Brazil, where the 30-year-old began studying religion.

“He had studied with the Jehovah's Witnesses, which caused him to reassess his life. Now he sees that he must follow the country's laws in order to be a Jehovah's Witness and as a result wants to pay for his crime,” the 30-year-old's defence attorney, Niclas Elison, told the newspaper.

The extradition process has taken a year, but on Monday the man stood before the Helsingborg District Court and listened as a judge ordered him remanded into custody.

While the robbery is more or less solved, authorities are still working to recover the 2 million kronor ($288,000) taken in the heist.

They are also hoping the 30-year-old man will help them locate his accomplices in the crime, despite his reluctance to do so.

“He's willing to confess to his part of the crime, but isn't willing to speak about any accomplices or about the money,” said Elison.

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