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CRIME

Police catch ‘Swedish church plunderer’

The Spanish National Police said on Monday that they had nabbed a man accused of snatching dozens of religious objects from Swedish churches.

Police catch 'Swedish church plunderer'
Photo: Spanish National Police.

A 63-year-old Spanish man in Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands, was arrested and charged for a “crime against historic heritage” after police found 43 religious objects from Swedish churches in his home.

The man had previously served five years in Swedish prison for similar crimes and was known by the nickname el expoliador de iglesias suecas, or “the plunderer of Swedish churches”.

Swedish investigators contacted the Spanish police about the missing artworks because the Tenerife man was their prime suspect. 

After investigating the man together, officers searched his house and found 43 items ranging from an 18th century Bible, to 15th century wood carvings of “great historical value”.

Investigators were able to locate four more items in Madrid, which had been sold through an auction house.

Authorities also determined that the man must have had warehouses in Denmark and with the help of police there were able to track down two storage spaces.

There officers found even more religious items. Based on material they found in Denmark, police then returned to the man's Tenerife home to find three more items that had been stolen including part of a 15th century altarpiece.

German authorities also helped in conducting research for the investigation.

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CRIME

Extremist deported after living in Spain for 30 years

Spanish authorities have deported a Moroccan Muslim activist who has lived in the country since he was ten, after accusing him of being one of the "main advocates" of the Salafist movement of ultra-conservative Islamism in Spain.

Extremist deported after living in Spain for 30 years

The 40-year-old was deported to Morocco on Saturday morning after he was held for several weeks at a deportation centre in Barcelona, a police source told AFP.

Officers arrested Mohamed Said Badaoui last month in the northeastern province of Tarragona, where he was the president of the Association for the Defence of the Rights of the Muslim Community.

A Spanish court in late October approved his deportation due to “his participation in activities contrary to national security” and “public order”.

Spanish police consider Badaoui to be “one of the main advocates in Spain of the most orthodox Salafism, which he preaches so influentially that an increase in radicalism occurred in Tarragona” since he moved there, according to its ruling.

Badaoui arrived in Spain at the age of ten from Morocco and has lived in the Catalan city of Reus for 30 years, where he has a wife and three children.

Police also accused him of “taking advantage” of the “vulnerability” of minors who arrive in Spain without their parents, “mainly of Moroccan origin”, to indoctrinate them in the “most radical Salafism,” which promotes a strictly conservative lifestyle.

Badaoui has rejected these accusations. Well-known in Spain’s northeastern region of Catalonia where he has lived for nearly three decades, he presents himself as an activist and anti-racism campaigner.

He has been supported by Catalonia’s main separatist parties which govern the region as well as by the regional branch of far-left party Podemos, the junior partner in Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s coalition government.

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