Art thief fights France extradition

3rd December 2003, Comments 0 comments

GENEVA, Dec 3 (AFP) - Stephane Breitwieser, the waiter whose thieving spree in dozens of museums shocked the international art world, is fighting against immediate extradition to France because he prefers Swiss prisons, his lawyer said Wednesday.

GENEVA, Dec 3 (AFP) - Stephane Breitwieser, the waiter whose thieving spree in dozens of museums shocked the international art world, is fighting against immediate extradition to France because he prefers Swiss prisons, his lawyer said Wednesday.

Breitweiser, 31, says he wants to complete his four-year sentence in Switzerland, which will end in July next year.

"He is better off in Swiss prisons, where he benefits from a humane treatment," lawyer Jean-Claude Morisod said.

Breitweiser, who admitted to 66 thefts from Swiss museums, is wanted for a further 68 thefts in France. He has been accused of stealing from museums in five other European countries.

Swiss police said he had admitted stealing 239 works, which have been estimated to be worth at least EUR 1.1 billion (USD 1.33 billion).

Acquired over seven years of heists, the contraband was stored in his mother's apartment in the eastern French city of Mulhouse. After Breitwieser's arrest, she dumped many of the objects into the Rhone-Rhine canal.

Brussels set to OK Lagardere purchase of Vivendi publisherBRUSSELS, Dec 3 (AFP) - EU Competition Commissioner Mario Monti is likely to give the green light to the purchase of Vivendi Universal's publishing arm by French group Lagardere, his spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Monti "has the intention of submitting to the Commission clearance in the coming weeks" for Lagardere's acquisition of Editis, formerly Vivendi Universal Publishing (VUP), spokeswoman Amelia Torres said.

The proposal would follow Monti's latest conditions for the deal accepted by Lagardere on Tuesday, she said.

Lagardere has said it will agree to keep Editis operations equal to just 40 percent of sales in order to gain EU approval for the deal.

The Commission, which resumed an investigation into the deal in August, is due to announce its decision by January 13.

The probe, which would originally have been concluded Wednesday, was suspended for a second time after Monti's team requested further information from the companies.

When the probe was opened in June, the Commission said it had "serious doubts" about the impact of the deal on the markets for publishing rights and the distribution and sale of books.

Acquisition of Editis would rank the Lagardere group fifth among publishers worldwide, in addition to its aviation interests.

© AFP

                                                                Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article