Polish court won't drop case Auschwitz theft case

Court in Poland refuses to drop a case against two British teenagers who were caught stealing from Nazi death camp.

Ben Ariel,


A court in Poland has refused to drop a case against two British teenagers who were caught stealing from the Nazi Auschwitz death camp last year, The Associated Press reported.

In the decision, which was handed down on Monday, the court referred the matter to a lower court.

Initially, the 17-year-old teenagers from Hertfordshire in southern England pleaded guilty to charges of stealing items from the site while on a school trip in June and were seeking settlement.

The two were allowed to return home, but their lawyers later argued that the case should be thrown out, because the teenagers were not aware that the objects they took from the site of the former camp's warehouses had special historic value.

The objects that were taken included part of an old hair-cutting machine, two pieces of reinforced glass from the warehouses and some buttons, according to AP.

A court in the southern city of Krakow admitted the items were of no special historic value, but ordered a court in Oswiecim, where the former camp is located, to weigh charges of simple theft.

The verdict is subject to appeal.

Pawel Sawicki, of the museum's press office, said the authorities of the Auschwitz Museum are considering an appeal in which they would stress that any objects coming from the site are of special value to history and to culture.

Auschwitz has been the target of several thefts in recent years, and Polish courts have handed out suspended prison terms and heavy fines to people convicted of stealing objects from the camp, noted AP. These include an elderly Israeli couple caught in 2011 and a German teacher caught in 2014.

In the most dramatic theft, the ominous "Arbeit Macht Frei" (Work Makes You Free) sign was stolen from the former death camp's historic gate in 2009. It was found days later, cut into pieces.

The Poles who stole it and the Swedish man who instigated them were sentenced to prison, and the sign was later restored.

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