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CRIME

Spanish customs seize €450K Picasso sketch at Ibiza airport

Spanish customs agents seized a Picasso sketch worth over €450,000 from a passenger who arrived at Ibiza airport without declaring the artwork, Spain's customs office said Monday.

Spanish customs seize €450K Picasso sketch at Ibiza airport
The customs office said they had singled him out for questioning after receiving a tip from their Swiss counterparts that he was transporting a piece of art in "suspicious" conditions. Photo: Hacienda/Guardia Civil

Agents found the 1966 sketch, dubbed “Trois personnages”, on July 5th in the suitcase of a man who arrived in the holiday island on a flight from Zurich, the office said in a statement.

The passenger said the artwork was a simple copy and presented the agents with a handwritten receipt of 1,500 Swiss francs (1,515 euros) which he said he had paid for the sketch.

But customs agents found another receipt in the bottom of his suitcase from a Zurich art gallery for 450,000 Swiss francs (€454,000) with a reference to a work by Pablo Picasso called “Trois personnages”.

According to a preliminary analysis carried out by art experts, the sketch is indeed a work by the Spanish painter and “the price charged by the gallery is in line with the market price,” the statement said.

The director of Ibiza’s Museu d’Art Contemporani (MACE) has reported that, “on a preliminary basis”, the alleged Picasso is authentic. Photo: Hacienda/Guardia Civil

This first assessment will have to be confirmed by a “more exhaustive” analysis using “advanced techniques”, it added.

The passenger faces possible charges of smuggling for failing to declare an object of value when he entered Spain.

The customs office said they had singled him out for questioning after receiving a tip from their Swiss counterparts that he was transporting a piece of art in “suspicious” conditions.

Considered to be one of most famous artists of the 20th century, Picasso spent the bulk of his long life in France, dying there in 1973.

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CRIME

Spain church attack suspect to undergo psychiatric testing

The Moroccan suspect held in connection with a machete attack on two Spanish churches, killing a verger and badly injuring a priest, will undergo psychiatric testing, a court said Tuesday.

Spain church attack suspect to undergo psychiatric testing

The case is being handled by the Audiencia Nacional, Spain’s top criminal court, with the judge in charge asking that “two doctors conduct a psychiatric evaluation of the suspect”.

The suspect, 25-year-old Yassine Kanjaa, was arrested at the scene after the attacks on two churches in the southern town of Algeciras last week.

The Audiencia Nacional said the psychiatric evaluation, which will be carried out by doctors from the court’s forensic department, would provide “information about the legal responsibility” of the “presumed jihadist”.

Prosecutors have opened a terror probe and, on Monday, the court remanded the suspect in custody without bail on murder and terrorism charges.

During the deadly incident on January 26th, the suspect entered San Isidro church and attacked its priest with a machete, leaving him seriously wounded before entering Nuestra Señora de La Palma.

There he attacked the verger and chased him out of the church where he killed him.

‘Targeted priests and infidels’

Court details released on Monday said the attacker had also injured three other people, including another Moroccan man whom he “considered an infidel” because he had renounced his faith.

It said Kanjaa’s actions could be “qualified as a jihadist attack directed at both priests who profess the Catholic faith, and Muslims who, according to the suspect, don’t follow the Koran”.

The court said the suspect fits the profile of a “self-indoctrinated terrorist who acts individually without direct ties to a specific terror group but operates in the name of jihadist philosophy”.

Last week, Spain’s left-wing government refused to rule out mental illness and the police have described him as “unstable”.

The court said Kanjaa became indoctrinated “rapidly” within the space of up to six weeks, citing witnesses as telling police that just before that, he “was drinking alcohol and smoking hashish”. Then he suddenly started listening “regularly to the Koran on his mobile phone”.

One of Kanjaa’s neighbours told AFP something similar on Friday, saying he had changed radically six weeks ago, growing a beard and wearing a long robe.

Officials have said Kanjaa was served with a deportation order last June but had no prior convictions and was not under surveillance.

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