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Poles clear Swedish artist over Holocaust ashes picture

Published torsdag 11 april 2013 kl 09.23
Artist Carl von Hausswolff

Polish prosecutors say they have dismissed their investigation into a Swedish artist's claims he used ashes of Holocaust victims in a painting, reports news agency AFP.

The case has now been sent back to Sweden with Polish prosecutors asking their Swedish counterparts to check whether artist Carl Michael von Hausswolff's actions constitute a crime under the judicial system here.

The artist claims he stole ashes from a crematorium at Nazi Germany's Majdanek concentration camp in Poland in 1989, diluted them in water and used them in a watercolour painting. The "Memory Works" painting, featuring vertical brushstrokes in a rectangle that symbolised the suffering of the reported 80,000 camp victims, was exhibited at a gallery in Lund in December, but the show closed after protests by the Jewish community and the Simon-Wiesenthal Centre, which represents Jewish interests.

The case was taken up in Poland after Swedish police dropped their investigation for lack of evidence since the offense was committed abroad. They had received a complaint against von Hausswolff from a resident in Lund for disturbing the peace of the dead.

Polish prosecutors said on Wednesday, that they could not charge him with desecration of the dead because the ashes were used abroad and therefore fell outside of Poland's jurisdiction. Beata Syk-Jankowska of the prosecutor's office in the eastern city of Lublin also told AFP that they would not be charging him with stealing human remains or graves because the statute of limitations had expired.

Von Hausswolff said his black-and-white painting was designed to show the victims of the Majdanek camp "were tortured, tormented and murdered by other people in one of the most ruthless wars of the 20th century".

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