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French Prosecutor Seeks Maximum Penalty in Art Theft Case


A French prosecutor has asked a court for the maximum three-year prison term for a man charged with stealing dozens of pieces of valuable artwork.

Stephane Breitwieser has already been convicted and sentenced to four years in prison in Switzerland on similar offenses. During his 2003 trial, he confessed to stealing more than 200 treasures from museums and galleries across Europe. He has already served two years of the Swiss sentence.

The prosecutor in the French case also requested Breitwieser's mother spend two years in prison after admitting she destroyed some of the items worth millions of dollars. He also sought a one-year term for Breitwieser's former girlfriend for helping with the crime.

Breitwieser's trial began on Thursday. Overnight he tried to hang himself in jail, but his cellmate alerted prison authorities.

Some information for this story provided by Reuters and AFP.