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Main suspect in Sweden’s royal jewels heist confesses

FILE - In this file photo dated Tuesday, July 31, 2018, a police cordon near the scene of a robbery at the Strangnas Cathedral, in Strangnas, Sweden, after priceless treasures from the Swedish royal regalia were stolen. Swedish broadcaster SVT are reporting Friday Feb. 15, 2019, that the main suspect in the theft of royal funeral artefacts has confessed after his DNA was found on the items that were pulled this month from a garbage bin north of Stockholm. (Pontus Stenberg/TT News Agency FILE via AP)

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — The main suspect in the theft of royal funeral artifacts from a Swedish cathedral confessed Friday to stealing them after his DNA was found on the items that were pulled out last week from a garbage bin north of Stockholm.

Swedish broadcaster SVT, reporting Friday from a Stockholm court, quoted the 22-year-old Swede as saying he cut himself when taking the two crowns and an orb from a display at the Strangnas Cathedral, west of the capital, on July 31. Police say blood on two of the items, found Feb. 5, matched his DNA, but they have no clue as to why the jewels turned up when they did.

“I am the one who committed the theft,” the defendant, who has not been publicly identified, said on the last day of the trial.

The heist made international headlines because the thieves got away from the red-brick church built between 1291 and 1340 on stolen bicycles and then fled by motorboat via the vast system of lakes west of Stockholm.

The items from 1611 that once belonged to King Karl IX and Queen Kristina are estimated to be worth 65 million kronor ($7 million). They are funeral regalia, which are placed inside or on top of a coffin to symbolize a deceased royal’s identity and social ranking.

Prosecutor Isabelle Bjursten has asked that the suspect, who reportedly intended to sell the items, get six years in prison. He has remained mum as to who helped him but two more men have been detained in the case.

One is suspected of being involved in the return of the precious regalia, which were found in a garbage bin that was placed on top of a car, north of Stockholm.

Another person likely helped out in the heist and has been detained but not charged.

While some funeral regalia are kept in the cathedrals of Strangnas, Uppsala and Vasteras, the vast majority of Sweden’s crown jewels are in vaults under the Royal Castle in Stockholm.

No date for a verdict was immediately announced.

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