General News of 2013-04-05

Two sentenced for stealing Otumfuo's gold

The two Peruvians who stole the crown jewels of the Asantehene,Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, have been sentenced to a total of 44 months imprisonment by a Oslo District Court.

The convicts, Luis Angel Acosta Barrios, 44, the man seen on CCTV carrying the suitcase which contained the gold ornaments, and Jaime Benigno Valverde Figueroa, 41, the driver during the operation, were found guilty of conspiracy to commit crime and stealing.

While Barrios will serve one year six months, Figueroa will spend two years two months in jail.

The Norwegian authorities are also seeking the extradition of a third accomplice, Maria Elena Ayma Ludena, 57, who is currently in prison custody in Peru.

The two convicts escaped to Sweden with their booty after the crime but were arrested in October 2012 and extradited to Noway to face prosecution.

The court, presided over by Mr Torjus Gard, was convinced that the two travelled from Sweden to Norway to steal and not to get to know the country, as they had stated in court.

Delivering his judgement, Mr Gard was of the view that the convicts acted professionally and had a straight target.

He added that it was without doubt that the crown jewels were of great value to the Asantehene, both politically and as a personal value.

In addition, the court ordered that the vehicle used by the two accused persons for the operation and the $21,000 recovered from Barrios be confiscated to the state.

It held that even though Barrios was the most active during the theft, his sentence was mild because he confessed and cooperated with the police.

Figueroa will serve his full sentence because of his criminal background, having been convicted 19 times between 1995 and 2012.

They had told the court that they originally planned to steal a designer purse from one of the women in Otumfuo Osei Tutu's company.

They had followed Otumfuo's entourage from the Oslo Gardermoen Airport to the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel in Oslo to steal the purse but chickened out.

However, on his way out of the hotel, Barrios snapped a bag from on top of a trolley and they left. They claimed they thought they had stolen a computer and did not know it was the king's jewels.

The court did not believe that.

Otumfuo Osei Tutu lost his crown jewels in the lobby of the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel in Oslo on October 10, 2012.

By October 18, the two suspects had been arrested.

The hotel's CCTV footage showed a man leaving the hotel with a suitcase suspected to contain the gold ornaments.

The court found the two accused persons guilty on March 21, 2013.

Source: Daily Graphic
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