A French court on Thursday convicted eight men of stealing and handling a Banksy painting that pays homage to the victims of the 2015 attack on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris.
Three men in their 30s who admitted to the 2019 theft have been sentenced to prison terms, one of four years and two of three years, although they can serve them with electronic tracking bracelets rather than behind bars.
Another man, a 41-year-old millionaire lottery winner and street art fan accused of masterminding the robbery, was sentenced to three years in prison for handling stolen goods after judges found the main charge unproven held. His sentence will also be served with a bracelet.
Elsewhere in the capital, the defense presented its final arguments at the trial of the surviving suspects of the 2015 Paris attacks themselves, with a verdict expected on June 29.
– ‘Behaved like vultures’ –
The British street artist Banksy painted in memory of the 90 people who died there on 13.
A white van with obscured license plates pulled up in an alleyway that ran alongside the central Paris music venue on January 26, 2019.
Many concert-goers fled down the same alley as the Bataclan became the focus of France’s worst attacks since World War II, when jihadists from the Islamic State group killed 130 people in a number of locations in the capital.
On the morning of the robbery, three masked men got out of the van, cut the hinges with angle grinders powered by a generator and left within 10 minutes in what an investigating judge described as a “meticulously prepared” raid.
Prosecutor Valerie Cadignan told the court earlier this month that the perpetrators were not attempting to debase the memory of the victims of the attack, but were “trying to make a profit, given the inestimable value of the door”.
She said the thieves “acted like vultures, like people stealing objects with no respect for what they might represent”.
During the trial, Bataclan officials said the theft sparked “deep outrage,” adding that the painted door was a “symbol of remembrance that belongs to everyone, locals, Parisians, citizens of the world.”
Investigators pieced together the door’s route through France and into Italy, where it was found in June 2020 at a farm in Sant’Omero, near the Adriatic coast.
Three men involved in moving the door were each jailed for 10 months, while a 58-year-old Italian man who owns a hotel where it was temporarily stored was given a six-month suspended sentence.
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