Sweden extradites neo-Nazi for “Arbeit Macht Frei” theft

A Swedish court has ruled that Anders Högström, the man Polish authorities suspect commissioned the theft of the “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign over the gate to Auschwitz, can be extradited to Poland.

Anders HögströmHögström founded Sweden’s National Socialist Front party in 1994, but left the party 5 years later in the wake of a rash of bank robberies and assaults by far-right groups, one of them resulting in murder. He denies the charges of being a mastermind, but fully admits to having acted as middleman between the five Polish thieves and the ultimate buyer. His defense is a little rich for my blood:

“I was asked if I wanted to take the sign from one location to another,” he said during an interview with the daily Aftonbladet. “We had a person who was willing to pay several millions [of kronor, or hundreds of thousands of dollars] for the sign.”

But after discovering that the money from the sale would fund a violent campaign aimed at disrupting Sweden’s upcoming parliamentary election, Högström said he decided to inform police about the plot. “That was not something I wanted to be involved in or carry out in any way,” said Högström, who quit the far-right movement in 1999.

He had scruples, you see, in the middle of arranging for the “Arbeit Mach Frei” sign to be cut into 3 pieces and sold to some neo-Nazi buddy of his. Ugh.

The Polish police think he was a lot more involved that that. They say Högström’s phone call came while they were already in the process of arresting the thieves. Also, the leader of the thieves has known Högström for 2 years, since he worked on Högström’s estate in southern Sweden. They’ve apparently stayed in touch all this time.

The Polish authorities think Högström commissioned the theft personally, then only called to fess up when his thieves told him the publicity was so huge they were bound to get caught.

Högström has 3 weeks to appealing the court’s ruling. If he doesn’t or his appeal is denied, the authorities have 10 days to come and get him. He’d then be sent to Poland for trial, but any prison time he does will be done in Sweden, as stipulated in the extradition agreement.

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