Master thieves: Dutch art heist accused face Romanian court

8eaa25 court bucharest romania Master thieves: Dutch art heist accused face Romanian court

The Court of Bucharest is pictured on January 25, 2013 in Bucharest, Romania. (AFP Photo/Daniel Mihailescu)A lawyer for three Romanian men accused of stealing a number of masterpieces from a museum in the Netherlands, including works by Picasso, Monet and Matisse, says there is insufficient evidence to charge them. ­”There is no evidence that this was an organized criminal group,” defense lawyer Doina Lupu said. “The arrests were based on assumptions and on simple declarations and these are not enough,” she added, urging that the trio not be extradited to the Netherlands.The theft is said to be one of the largest in Dutch history.All three men deny any links to the theft at Rotterdam’s Kunsthal gallery, AP reported.It proved to be a case of ‘easier done than said’ for the thieves who stole seven masterpieces worth millions of dollars from the Dutch gallery in mid-October. The police say security at Rotterdam’s Kunsthal was not up to scratch. The art gallery said the thieves were able swiftly to snatch the artworks by Matisse, Monet and Picasso in an overnight burglary after an alarm briefly deactivated a rear door’s electronic lock. Although the door had mechanical locks, the thieves managed to break inside, the Dutch museum explained. Images caught on camera revealed they entered and left within 120 seconds, ahead of the police who arrived five minutes after the alarm sounded.According to the prosecutor, suspect Radu Dogaru took two paintings – one each by Henri Matisse and Paul Gauguin – to be evaluated by the curator for foreign paintings at the Romanian National Art Museum, Maria Dragu. Both denied the accusations.The other two suspects, Alexandru Bitu and Eugen Darie, also denied being involved in the theft. Darie did tell the court he had visited the Kunsthal gallery twice to look at its bronze sculptures.The Bucharest Court decided that the men should be kept in custody pending an investigation.The investigators have posted a YouTube video showing two masked individuals slipping inside and coming out with their bags filled. The police said they have had more than 60 tips in connection with the burglary.The pictures were part of an exhibition which opened in early October as part of the gallery’s 20th anniversary celebrations. The works belonged to the Triton Foundation which holds pieces by the most important and influential artists of the late nineteenth century to the present day.

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Master thieves: Dutch art heist accused face Romanian court

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