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Israelis sentenced for theft of Auschwitz mementoes

WARSAW (Reuters) - An Israeli couple have been given suspended jail sentences for the theft of historic artifacts from the former Nazi death camp Auschwitz, Poland's PAP news agency quoted a prosecutor as saying on Saturday.

"They have voluntarily accepted a two-year suspended jail sentence and agreed to pay a mandatory contribution toward the preservation of monuments," Deputy District Prosecutor Mariusz Slomka said, without specifying the amount.

After all formalities are dealt with, the 60-year-old man and his 57-year-old wife will be free to leave Poland, he said.

The couple had been charged earlier on Saturday with the theft of mementoes of particular cultural importance, an offence that carries a maximum 10-year jail sentence.

They spent Friday night in jail after border guards at Krakow airport caught them trying to take several Auschwitz artifacts out of the country, Slomka told PAP.

Krakow police spokesman Dariusz Nowak said the couple took nine items including spoons, knives, scissors and porcelain bottle stoppers they had found in a storage room of prisoner belongings during a visit to Auschwitz, now a museum.

It was the third such incident this year at the site in southern Poland, Nowak said.

Auschwitz, a network of extermination camps near Krakow, was the centerpiece of Nazi Germany's "Final Solution" for Jews.

An estimated 1.1 million people, mostly Jews from Poland and elsewhere in Europe, perished at Auschwitz during World War Two.

(Writing by Rob Strybel; editing by Mark Heinrich)

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