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3 men charged in Auschwitz sign theft

By the CNN Wire Staff
Three men have been charged in connection with the theft of the Auschwitz sign "Arbeit Macht Frei" or "Work Sets You Free."
Three men have been charged in connection with the theft of the Auschwitz sign "Arbeit Macht Frei" or "Work Sets You Free."
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The "Arbeit Macht Frei" sign was emblematic of Nazi camps
  • The men are accused of stealing the sign last December
  • The sign was later recovered, chopped into three pieces
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(CNN) -- Three people have been charged in last year's theft of the famous "Arbeit Macht Frei" sign at the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, a prosecutor said Friday.

The prosecutor, Robert Parys, said he could not immediately confirm details about those charged, but Poland's official PAP news agency reported the main suspect is a Swedish man, Anders Hoegstroem.

Prosecutors say Hoegstroem incited two Poles to steal the sign, which sat atop the entrance to the camp, PAP reported. He pleaded not guilty, and would face a sentence of 10 years in prison if convicted, the news agency reported.

Hoegstroem was arrested in February in Stockholm, Sweden, and the Swedish court allowed him to be transferred to Poland in April, PAP said.

The sign reading "Arbeit Macht Frei" -- German for "Work Sets You Free" -- was emblematic of the Nazi camps of World War II. It was stolen in December of last year, prompting outrage around the world.

The sign was found 70 hours later in a village near Torun, roughly 210 miles (340 kilometers) to the north, and had been chopped into three parts, PAP reported.

The men managed to remove the heavy iron sign by unscrewing it from one side and pulling off on the other, police spokeswoman Agnieszka Szczygiel said at the time.

More than 1 million people died in gas chambers or were starved to death in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp complex; about 90 percent of the victims were Jews.