August 16, 2013 - 15:56 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The Romanian ringleader of a gang accused of one of the most audacious art heists in history wants to shift his trial in Bucharest to Holland in return for giving back five paintings, ABC Net said.
In October last year, in less than three minutes, seven masterpieces were stripped from the walls of Kunsthal museum in the Dutch city of Rotterdam.
The works stolen were Picasso's Tete 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 fenetre ouverte, De Haan's Autoportrait and Freud's Woman with Eyes Closed.
Shortly before the hearing opened, a lawyer for alleged mastermind Radu Dogaru, said his client, who admits his guilt, had offered to return five of the works in return for being tried in the Netherlands instead of Romania.
Investigators fear that at least some of the paintings have been burnt by Dogaru's mother in her home oven to hide the evidence as the police arrested her son.
At the time, the director of the Romanian national history museum, Ernest Tarnoveanu, said a forensic check of the oven confirmed the worst fears.
Four of the suspects, including Dogaru, were in court for Tuesday's brief hearing. A fifth, who is not in detention, did not attend the session while a sixth accused is on the run and will be tried in absentia.
As well as standing trial for aiding and abetting, Olga Dogaru faces a separate investigation into the possible destruction of the artworks.