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Three men sentenced with possession of stolen Rembrandt painting

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Stockholm (dpa) - Three Swedish men were sentenced Thursday for trying to sell a Rembrandt painting that was stolen five years ago from the National Museum in Stockholm and recently recovered.

Valued at 100 million kronor (12 million dollars), the 1630 Rembrandt "self-portrait" was stolen in December 2000 by three masked and armed robbers.

In all, four men aged 24 to 29 were charged with possession of stolen goods. The Stockholm district court sentenced two men to one year each in prison while a third man was sentenced to two years. It dismissed the charges against a 25-year-old defendant.

It was not immediately known if prosecutor Ronnie Jacobson, who was on holiday, or the defence would appeal the court's ruling.

In addition to the self-portrait by the Dutch master, two paintings by French impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir were snatched from the museum located on the waterfront in downtown Stockholm.

The September 2005 recovery of the Rembrandt painting involved cooperation between Swedish police, the FBI in the U.S. and police in Denmark.

The men made contact with a U.S. buyer and arranged to sell the stolen painting to a buyer at a hotel in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The 12 x 15.5 cm work was transported to Copenhagen where they met the potential buyer at a hotel. One of them received 245,000 dollars in cash and was secretly videotaped counting the money that was a deposit for the painting.

The self-portrait, which was undamaged, was returned to the National Museum on September 21 on the eve of the opening of an exhibition on Dutch masters.

All three paitings stolen in December 2000 from the National Museum have been recovered but one Renoir, "Jeune Parisienne" (Young Parisian) still remains in the United States.

The National Museuum theft was the largest in Sweden since 1993 when robbers cut through the roof of Stockholm's old Modern Museum in 1993 and stole eight works by cubist masters Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque.

Copyright 2005 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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