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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Swedish thief of Auschwitz 'Work Makes Free' sign is jailed by Polish court

In cuffs: Anders Hogstrom enters court in Krakow today to be sentenced over the theft

A Swedish man was today sentenced to two years and eight months in prison over the theft last year of the notorious ‘Work Sets You Free’ sign from the former Auschwitz death camp.

A judge at a regional court in the southern Polish city of Krakow approved a settlement that Anders Hogstrom reached with prosecutors.

Hogstrom, who had confessed to involvement in the December 2009 theft of the sign that reads ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ in German, was convicted of instigating it.

He is expected to be transferred to Sweden in the coming weeks to serve his term.
Both sides have seven days to appeal the verdict.

If no appeal is made - which appears likely given the deal between the defendant and prosecutors - Hogstrom can then be transferred to Sweden.

Prosecutor Robert Parys said the main motive of the group of six that carried out the theft was financial.

Hogstrom maintains that another Swedish man talked him into organizing the heist, but Polish prosecutors have been unable to find evidence to support his claim.

Judge Jaroslaw Gaberle also approved plea deals Thursday for two Polish men, Marcin Auguscinski and Andrzej Strychalski.

They were convicted of involvement in stealing the sign and given sentences of two and a half years and two years and four months respectively.

Three other Poles involved in the case were convicted of secondary roles in the theft and handed prison terms in March.

The theft occurred in the night between December 17 and December 18, 2009.
Police tracked down the sign less than three days after it was stolen, finding it cut into three pieces in a forest.

Between 1940 and 1945 more than 1million people, mostly Jews, were killed in the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau or died of starvation, disease and hard physical labour at the camp, which Nazi Germany set up in occupied Poland.

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