Historic mine’s thief sentenced to jail

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A 48-year-old man from Drammen has been sentenced to 14 months in jail for stealing silver and other ore from Norway’s historic mines in Kongsberg. The man snuck into the defunct but preserved mines over a period of 20 years, and engaged in illegal mining of his own.

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that the defendant was convicted of violating Norway’s laws protecting the nation’s cultural heritage and for illegal possession of dynamite. He also was ordered to pay NOK 200,000 in compensation to the Norsk Bergverksmuseum, the industrial museum tied to the mines, which are a tourist attraction in the hills outside Kongsberg.

Eluded police for years
Eight months of his sentence were suspended, but prosecutors got nearly the jail term they sought of one year and five months. The compensation claim, however, was cut by more than half.

The eager but illegal miner, a father of two, had eluded security guards and police for years in his quest for various minerals and silver from the mine that opened in 1622 and was closed in 1958. The mines were historically preserved and put under protection orders in 1992.

He claimed that he began his expeditions into the mine shafts after taking a mountain climbing course in 1988, before the protection order was issued. He and some companions found silver and that started years of furtive trips back to the mines, also after the forays became illegal.

‘The Spider’
He became known as Edderkoppen (“The Spider”) and “Dynamite Harry” for his ability to scale the steep walls of the pitch-dark mine. Newspaper Aftenposten reported that he was caught red-handed by police who had staked out a remote opening to the mine. When he emerged, dripping wet and with climbing-gear on a cold afternoon in May last year, they waited until he was far enough away from the opening that he couldn’t dive back into the mine and elude them again, before they yelled “police!” and arrested him.

The defendant admitted that he knew his activity was illegal, but the excitement of finding silver, crystals and other minerals was too great. Police found minerals and silver in his home valued at NOK 2 million.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund