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By Juliette Jabkhiro
PARIS (Reuters) - Eight people found guilty by a French court on Thursday of stealing a mural by street artist Banksy from the famous Bataclan concert hall in Paris were handed prison sentences ranging from a few months to several years.
In June 2018, Banksy created a mural of a veiled, mournful female figure on a fire exit door of the Bataclan concert venue, where 90 people were killed by Islamist gunmen during a wave of simultaneous attacks across Paris on November 13, 2015.
The door, stolen in January 2019, was found in 2020 in a farmhouse by the Italian police and given back to France.
Three of the men, captured on surveillance camera but identified after police tracked their phones following a separate theft, used a crowbar and angle grinder to prise it free in a crime that lasted just minutes, the court heard earlier this month.
The shortest sentence was six months suspended, while the harshest was a four year prison sentence, two of which were suspended but none of them are likely to go to jail as they have already served some of the sentences.
The trio has admitted theft but disputed who was behind the crime. Defence lawyers for some of the men framed the theft as a case of small-time crooks who ended up with a more troublesome object on their hands than they had anticipated.
The other men were found guilty of receiving stolen goods.
It's not the first time a Banksy piece has been targeted by thieves. A decade ago, a valuable painting of a rat carrying a suitcase was stolen from a meter box outside a house in the Australian city of Melbourne.
(Reporting by Juliette Jabkhiro,; Editing by Tassilo Hummel, Mark John and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)