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By Ioana Patran | Reuters
BUCHAREST – The leader of a Romanian gang that stole paintings from a Dutch museum in one of the world’s biggest art heists could be sentenced this week to up to 18 years in prison, according to a statement by his lawyer Tuesday. Radu Dogaru’s sentencing is among upcoming events this week that also include likely testimony by fascist leaders in Greece, the release of new housing indicators in the United States and the premiere of a new film featuring former Wire star Idris Elba.
Dogaru and three other Romanians pleaded guilty earlier this year to stealing the artworks, insured for 18 million euros ($24.35 million), from Rotterdam’s Kunsthal museum in October 2012.
The judge told reporters at the end of Tuesday’s session of the trial that the sentence for Dogaru and gang member Eugen Darie would be announced on November 26.
Also ahead this week:
Defence lawyer Catalin Dancu said Dogaru and Darie could be sentenced to between two and 18 years, but he expected them both to be handed seven year terms after admitting their guilt.
The trial will continue for the four other defendants: the two others who pleaded guilty as the court did not accept a so-called “simplified procedure” for them; Dogaru’s mother, who is accused of destroying the art and has exercised her right not to comment; and a sixth suspect being tried in absentia.
The works stolen were Picasso’s “Tête d’Arlequin”, Matisse’s “La Liseuse en Blanc et Jaune”, Monet’s “Waterloo Bridge, London” and “Charing Cross Bridge, London”, Gauguin’s “Femme devant une fenêtre ouverte”, Meijer De Haan’s “Autoportrait” and Lucian Freud’s “Woman with Eyes Closed”.
Their whereabouts are unknown.
Security camera footage released at the time of the theft showed a gang entering through a back door and disappearing from the camera’s view. Seconds later they reappeared carrying bulky objects and left the building by the same entrance.
A Romanian team of experts said in July three of the paintings could have been destroyed by fire. Dogaru’s mother said she had burned them to protect her son as police closed in, but later retracted her statement.
(Writing by Radu Marinas; Editing by Alison Williams; Additional editing by Baltimore Sun staff)