A French court on Thursday convicted eight men for the theft and handling of a Banksy painting paying 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 were given prison sentences, one of four years and two of three, although they will be able to serve them wearing electronic-tracking bracelets rather than behind bars.
Another man, a millionaire lottery winner and street art fan aged 41, who was accused of being the mastermind of the heist, was given three years in jail for handling stolen goods after judges found the main allegation unproven. His sentence will also be served with a bracelet.
British street artist Banksy painted his “sad girl” stencil on the metal door of the Bataclan in memory of the 90 people killed there on November 13, 2015.
A white van with concealed number plates was seen stopping on January 26, 2019, in an alleyway running alongside the central Paris music venue.
Many concertgoers fled via the same alley when the Bataclan became the focal point of France’s worst ever attacks since the Second World War, as ISIS extremists killed 130 people at a string of sites across the capital.
On the morning of the theft, three masked men climbed out of the van, cut the hinges with angle grinders powered by a generator and left within 10 minutes, in what an investigating judge called a “meticulously prepared” heist.
Prosecutor Valerie Cadignan told the court earlier this month that the perpetrators had not sought to debase the memory of the attack victims, but “being aware of the priceless value of the door were looking to make a profit”.
She said the thieves “acted like vultures, like people who steal objects without any respect for what they might represent”.
During the trial, Bataclan staff said the theft sparked “deep indignation” as 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 across France and into Italy, where it was found in June 2020 on a farm in Sant’Omero, near the Adriatic coast.
Three men involved in transporting the door were each jailed for 10 months, while an Italian man, 58, who owns a hotel where it was temporarily stored received a six-month suspended sentence.
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