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Three Men Sentenced in Art Robbery

February 6, 1999

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) _ Three men were sentenced Friday in connection with the robbery of three significant 19th-century paintings from a Frankfurt exhibition gallery.

The paintings, which have not been recovered, were taken from the Schirm gallery in July 1994.

One painting was by Casper David Friederich, a master of German romanticism whose landscapes often contained religious symbolism. Two were by J.M.W. Turner, one of England’s greatest painters known for his landscapes.

The judge sentenced ringleader Stephan Weiss, 31, to 11 years in prison and his accomplice, Yusef Tuerk, 29, to eight _ punishments more severe than prosecutors had requested.

Stefan Hoefler, convicted of helping try to sell the paintings, was sentenced to 2 1/2 years.

Prosecutors said the robbers gained access to the Schirn gallery by shutting off the alarm system and entering through the freight elevator. They knocked out a guard, tied him up and took his keys before stealing the paintings and escaping in a van.

The culprits left fingerprints on the emergency exit and later tried to sell the Turners to an undercover police investigator.

Two other men charged in the case were acquitted.

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