Israeli couple held over Auschwitz artefacts theft

The railway track at the Auschwirz-Birkenau death camp. File photo
Image caption More than a million people were murdered by the Nazis at Auschwitz during World War II

An Israeli couple have been given suspended jail sentences in Poland for the theft of artefacts from the Nazi death camp Auschwitz, officials say.

The nine items, including spoons and a pair of scissors, were found in their luggage during a routine check as they prepared to board a flight to Israel.

The couple admitted taking the items during a tour of the former concentration camp, now a museum.

They are expected to pay a contribution towards the preservation of the site.

More than a million people - most of them Jews - were murdered by the Nazis at Auschwitz during World War II.

The 60-year-old man and 57-year-old woman - whose names have not been released - were detained at Krakow airport in southern Poland on Friday as they prepared to board a return flight to Israel, officials said.

The couple told Polish police they had found the items at the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial site, officials said.

Police took them back there and the couple indicated an area where the Nazis used to keep prisoners' belongings, the chief spokesman for the memorial, Jaroslaw Mensfelt, told AP news agency.

"We can safely assume that the objects they stole were original, from that time," Mr Mensfelt was quoted as saying.

The couple were then charged with stealing culturally important items - an offence that carries a maximum 10-year jail sentence.

"They have voluntarily accepted a two-year suspended jail sentence and agreed to pay a mandatory contribution towards the preservation of monuments," Deputy District Prosecutor Mariusz Slomka was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

He did not specify the amount of the contribution.

The couple will be allowed to return to Israel once the formalities are dealt with, added the deputy district prosecutor.

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