Four divers charged with systematic plunder of protected wrecks in the Baltic
The accused individuals appear to have engaged in large-scale systematic looting and disturbance of several wrecks and protected sites, including wrecks of older warships in the Baltic Sea, according to a spokesperson from the Public Prosecutor's Office in Kalmar.
The Swedish Coast Guard apprehended the divers in July 2020, as they were found retrieving artifacts from a wreck off the Baltic island of Öland. A subsequent house search uncovered a large number of objects, which were suspected to originate from wrecks classified as protected. Among the objects was an iron cannon dated to the 17th century.
The indictment includes ten charges for incidents during a number of dives that took place from 2013 to 2020. Two of the men stand charged on all counts.
"My assessment is that the crimes should be assessed as serious, partly because they led to extensive destruction of protected sites," said prosecutor Magnus Ling with the Public Prosecutor's Office in Kalmar.
The Swedish Antiquities legislation states that it is forbidden to intentionally or negligently disturb, remove, dig out, cover, or by means of construction, plunder or otherwise alter or damage, historic sites. Offenses can result in imprisonment for up to four years.