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Sweden's art museum thieves jailed

STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- Thieves who stole Renoir and Rembrandt paintings in an audacious Christmas in Sweden have been sentenced to up to six years in prison and ordered to pay $30 million.

Eight men were sentenced on Friday for their parts in the theft of three pieces of art from Stockholm's waterfront National Museum on December 22.

The district court found that two of the men, 42-year-old Alexander Petrov and 31-year-old Stefan Nordstroem, had been directly involved and sentenced them to six-and-a-half years and six years, respectively, for aggravated robbery.

Three others, including a Moroccan, faced between two and four years in prison for complicity in the theft.

The five also were ordered to pay the museum 320 million kronor ($30 million) in damages -- the estimated value of the two paintings that remain missing -- a Rembrandt self-portrait painted in 1630 and Renoir's "Young Parisian."

Three other men also were sentenced to up to four years in prison for handling stolen goods, while five other suspects were acquitted of charges including theft and extortion. All 13 suspects had pleaded not guilty.

Drugs raid

Chief prosecutor Nils-Eric Schultz was quoted by The Associated Press as telling Swedish news agency TT: "I am satisfied with the verdicts and the penalties."

The theft occurred when three hooded men walked into the building shortly before closing time, with one of them pointing a gun at unarmed guards while the two others snatched the art off the walls.

The three then fled on foot to a boat moored across the street.

The third stolen painting, Renoir's "Conversation" -- a close-up of a man and a woman with her back turned -- was found last April during an unrelated drugs raid by police and has been returned to the museum.






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