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CRIME

Italian arrested in Venezuela murder probe

Italian police have arrested a fugitive wanted in the 2012 killing of a Frenchman in Venezuela, whose dismembered body was thrown out to sea in a suitcase, media reports said on Sunday.

Italian arrested in Venezuela murder probe
Police car photo: Shutterstock

The Italian man, sought by Interpol for the grisly murder, was discovered at a campsite on the outskirts of Rome, and taken to prison to await extradition to France.

At the time of the murder Venezuelan police said the suspect was the butler of the victim, Paul Maurice Wolnerman, 71, who was shot dead on April 2012 in the port city of Lecheria.

Another suspect, Wolnerman's driver, was arrested in Venezuela in 2012 and admitted participating in the murder. Police described him as the "direct author" of the crime.

Wolnerman, who had lived in Venezuela since 2005, had decided to sell his penthouse, car and motorboat and move to the Dominican Republic with his butler, according to the investigation.

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CRIME

New York returns millions worth of stolen art to Italy

Prosecutors in New York on Tuesday returned dozens of antiquities stolen from Italy and valued at around $19 million, some of which were found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

New York returns millions worth of stolen art to Italy

“These 58 pieces represent thousands of years of rich history, yet traffickers throughout Italy utilized looters to steal these items and to line their own pockets,” said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, noting that it was the third such repatriation in nine months.

“For far too long, they have sat in museums, homes, and galleries that had no rightful claim to their ownership,” he said at a ceremony attended by Italian diplomats and law enforcement officials.

The stolen items had been sold to Michael Steinhardt, one of the world’s leading collectors of ancient art, the DA’s office said, adding that he had been slapped with a “first-of-its-kind lifetime ban on acquiring antiquities.”

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Among the recovered treasures, which in some cases were sold to “unwitting collectors and museums,” were a marble head of the Greek goddess Athena from 200 B.C.E. and a drinking cup dating back to 470 B.C.E, officials said.

The pieces were stolen at the behest of four men who “all led highly lucrative criminal enterprises – often in competition with one another – where they would use local looters to raid archaeological sites throughout Italy, many of which were insufficiently guarded,” the DA’s office said.

One of them, Pasquale Camera, was “a regional crime boss who organized thefts from museums and churches as early as the 1960s. He then began purchasing stolen artifacts from local looters and sold them to antiquities dealers,” it added.

It said that this year alone, the DA’s office has “returned nearly 300 antiquities valued at over $66 million to 12 countries.”

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