WARSAW, Poland (AP) — A 66-year-old Italian man has been released without being charged after he was questioned over the alleged theft of a piece of barbed wire from Auschwitz museum, Polish police said Sunday.
Krakow police spokesman Mariusz Ciarka said the man was detained at Krakow airport in Poland's south on Saturday after the wire was found in his luggage, but was released after he led police to the area from where the 30-centimeter (1 foot) piece came.
Ciarka said that taking the wire from that particular area did not violate laws protecting the memorial of the German Nazi death camp. The area is not under protection and represents no special historic significance, according to Auschwitz Museum historians.
The man said he had taken the wire as a memento to his father who died at Auschwitz.
In 2009 the infamous "Arbeit Macht Frei" (German for "Work Makes You Free") sign was stolen from the main gate that led into Auschwitz. Four Poles and a Swedish man received prison terms of some 18 months for the theft.
Earlier this year an Israeli couple, identified only as Mordechai and Dominique P., were given suspended 16-month prison terms for stealing historic items from the museum grounds in June 2011.
Between 1940-45, some 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, died in Auschwitz gas chambers or from hunger, disease and forced labor.