Poland: Two Belgians acquitted of Auschwitz theft

Polish court acquits two Belgians who were accused of stealing parts of an electric fence from Auschwitz.

Arutz Sheva North America Staff,

Auschwitz entrance
Auschwitz entrance
Thinkstock

A Polish court on Friday acquitted two Belgian citizens who had been accused of stealing parts of an electric fence from the former Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp, AFP reported.

All objects in the former Nazi death camp, including its electric fence, are the property of the state museum at the site in Oswiecim, southern Poland, which is on UNESCO's protected World Heritage list.

Identified only as 51-year-old Yann P.B. and William H., who is 48, the two men were detained in July 2016 with three porcelain electrical isolators in an area adjacent to the camp grounds.

The men testified that they came across the half-buried isolators as they were taking photographs along the fence perimeter outside the camp, Poland's PAP news agency reported.

The Krakow court said it had found no evidence that the men had intended to act illegally.

It further said that although the electrical isolators had "significant historic value" this did not necessarily mean they enjoy legal protection as objects that have "special importance for culture", PAP said.

Prior to the trial, Polish prosecutors had said that the men had risked up to a decade behind bars if found guilty of stealing the parts from the former death camp.

In recent years there have been several incidents of vandalism and even desecration at Auschwitz.

Last year, two British teenagers were caught stealing from Auschwitz while on a school trip.

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.

Earlier this month, a Polish court gave a suspended one-year sentence to a 17-year-old American who was caught scratching his name into the barracks at Auschwitz.

The teen, identified only as Raphael A., was also ordered Monday to pay 1,000 zlotys ($280) to the Auschwitz-Birkenau state museum.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)




top