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Otumfour Osei Tutu’s Gold Thieves In Court

Two Peruvians are standing trial in an Oslo City Court in Norway for allegedly stealing crown jewels belonging to the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, in 2012.

The two accused persons, Luis Angel Acosta Barrios, 44, and Jaime Benigno Valverde Figueroa, 42, face a little over two years in jail if found guilty.

Barrios is said to have picked the bag containing the crown jewels, while Figueroa is alleged to have been the driver for the operation.

An accomplice, Maria Elena Ayma Ludena, who is alleged to be the brain behind the disappearance of the jewels, is in prison custody in Peru.

The authorities in Norway are, however, seeking the extradition of Ludena to Norway to face trial.

The court, presided over by Mr Torjus Gard, will give its judgement in April.

The prosecutor, Asmund Riegels, is asking for a year and a half prison sentence for Barrios and two years two months term for Figueroa because of his previous criminal record.

According to the prosecution, Figueroa was a jailbird who had served seven sentences between 2005 and 2012 in Sweden.

The two Peruvian suspects were arrested in Sweden in October 2012 when they escaped with their booty but were extradited to Norway to face prosecution.

At the court sitting Thursday, counsel for Barrios, Mrs Christine Hamborgstrøm, prayed the court to reduce his sentence because he had helped the police to find the goldsmith who bought the gold and that he had pleaded guilty from the beginning.

Counsel for Figueroa, Mr Stein Erik Ottesen, asked the court to acquit his client because he played very little role in the disappearance of the gold.

Figueroa had admitted that he had been driving the car, but said he did not know that the others (Barrios and Ludena) were going to do anything criminal.

The three had gone to Oslo to work. On the day of the crime, they went to the Gardermoen Airport in Oslo, where they saw Otumfuo’s delegation.

At the airport, Barrios was said to have seen a lady carrying a designer bag which he tried to take but did not succeed.

The trio then followed the delegation to the hotel where CCTV images showed Ludena, the lady among them, court the porter’s attention, while Barrios snatched a laptop bag from the baggage trolley.

At 8 p.m. that same day (October 10, 2012), the car used by the suspects was stopped by the police in Stockholm in Sweden because the driver (Figueroa) was drunk.

A search in the car did not reveal anything, but the names of the passengers were written down.

With the Oslo Police in Norway sending out pictures from a video showing the theft, followed by the issuance of arrest orders for the trio, Barrios was arrested at the Arlanda Airport, outside Stockholm, while Figueroa was arrested at the outskirt of Stockholm.

After his arrest, Barrios gave the police the name of a goldsmith in Stockholm who received 5.3 kilogrammes of the jewels and melted them.

Otumfuo Osei Tutu lost his crown jewels in the lobby of the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel in Oslo on October 10, 2012.

By October 18, the two suspects had been arrested.

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The hotel’s CCTV footage showed a man leaving the hotel with a suitcase suspected to contain the gold ornaments.

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