A Polish court sentenced a Swedish man on Thursday to nearly three years in prison for masterminding the theft of the infamous "Arbeit macht frei" sign from the entry gate of the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz.
The sign -- an enduring symbol of the Holocaust whose English meaning is "Work sets you free" -- was stolen last December, triggering international outrage, especially in Israel and among Jewish groups, but was soon recovered.
The court in Krakow, southern Poland, sentenced Anders Hogstrom, 34, to two years and eight months in jail for orchestrating the theft.
When the court announced its decision, Hogstrom said calmly: "Yes, I accept the verdict."
Hogstrom, caught in Sweden in February, will shortly be extradited back home to serve out the remainder of his sentence.
The Krakow court also handed down jail sentences of up to 2-1/2 years to two Poles who stole the metal sign and cut it into three pieces to fit into their car.
The sign has been repaired but is now on display in the Auschwitz museum
, while a replica hangs over the entrance gate to the former death camp.
Some 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, perished at Auschwitz, located near the village of Oswiecim close to Krakow, during World War Two. Prisoners arriving at the camp used to enter via the relatively small iron gate topped by the German-language motto.
More than 200 hectares (500 acres) of the former camp became a museum after the war ended in 1945.
(Reporting by Wojciech Zurawski, writing by Gabriela Baczynska; editing by Mark Trevelyan)
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