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Norwegians Convicted In Theft of Munch Painting “The Scream″

January 17, 1996 GMT

OSLO, Norway (AP) _ Four Norwegian men were convicted Wednesday of the 1994 theft of the country’s most treasured painting, ``The Scream″ by Edvard Munch.

A half-dozen police had to wrestle suspected mastermind Paal Enger to the floor in a furious outburst when the Oslo City Court sentenced him to six years and three months in prison. In 1988, he was sent to prison for another Munch theft.

Munch’s 1893 masterpiece of a waif-like figure appearing to scream was stolen from the National Gallery in Oslo on Feb. 12, 1994, the opening day of the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer.

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In the 50-second ``Scream″ theft, videotaped by a security camera, two thieves climbed a ladder, broke a window and emerged with the painting, worth at least $55 million. They left a postcard saying: ``Thanks for the poor security.″

The painting was recovered undamaged three months later in a sting operation involving Britain’s Scotland Yard and a respected Norwegian art dealing acting as a secret agent from the museum.

Enger shouted ``I am innocent″ and threw a water bottle onto the courtroom floor when his sentence was read at the end of the three-month trial. He was hustled out of the courtroom, but brought back after 20 minutes.

Enger and 20-year-old William Asheim, sentenced to four years and nine months, were convicted of stealing the painting and attempting to sell stolen property.

Enger had served a four-year sentence for his 1988 conviction in the theft of Munch’s painting ``The Vampire″ in Oslo. That painting was also recovered undamaged.

Bjorn Grytdal, 28, was sentenced to four years and nine months in prison and Jan Olsen, 50, to two years and eight months for charges that included attempting to sell stolen property.