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Three arrested for Viking treasure theft

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15:24 CET+01:00
Three men, including the board member of an auction house, have been arrested on Gotland in connection with the plunder of hundreds of Viking-era silver artifacts from the Baltic Sea island, Sveriges Radio reports.

The three men, 38, 44 and 45, all live on the mainland, though two also own homes on Gotland.

One of the men, a 44-year-old from Stockholm, is employed by an auction house specializing in the sale of old coins.

The two men in their forties are suspected of aggravated cultural heritage offfences, a crime that carries a maximum sentence of four years in jail. The 44-year old and 45-year-old are also both suspected of aggravated preparation to commit a cultural heritage offence.

The 38-year-old is accused of the lesser crime of preparation to commit a cultural heritage offence.

The men were arrested on Tuesday afternoon. A remand hearing on Friday afternoon is to be followed later in the day by a police press conference.

The Local reported on Monday that some five hundred silver artifacts had been looted from a site of archaeological interest on the Baltic island.

Two archaeologists employed by Gotland county discovered that the valuables had vanished when they arrived at a field in Alva in Gotland to follow up on a recent find.

The methodical thieves dug some 250 holes in a bid to secure as much booty as possible. Majvor Östergren at the Gotland County Administrative Board estimated that the impostors had made off with 500 silver pieces worth a combined total of 250,000 to 500,000 kronor ($35,000 to $70,000).

The last time someone was been convicted of cultural heritage offences on Gotland was back in 1991. Two German geologists with metal detectors were each sentenced to three months in prison when they tried to make off with a number of artifacts, Sveriges Radio reports.

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