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02 July 2010 - Media release

INTERPOL praises German and Ukrainian police collaboration in recovery of stolen Caravaggio painting

LYON, France – The head of INTERPOL has praised police authorities in Germany and Ukraine for their ‘exemplary international collaboration’ in a recent operation in which a stolen Caravaggio painting was recovered and an alleged international art theft gang broken up with more than 20 suspects arrested.

Led by Germany’s Federal Police, the Bundeskriminalamt (BKA), and supported on the ground by Germany’s GSG 9 special operations unit and Ukrainian police officers, the joint operation resulted in three Ukrainians and one Russian national being detained in Berlin, just as the suspects were reportedly about to sell the stolen painting.

The operation also led to the dismantling of a suspected international criminal gang, with 20 alleged accomplices also held in Ukraine.

"INTERPOL is very pleased at the recovery of this important work of art and in the arrests of a number of suspects through the joint efforts of German and Ukrainian law enforcement authorities," said INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble.

“This operation is a credit to law enforcement authorities in Germany and Ukraine and once again demonstrates the power and effectiveness of international co-operation between police in obtaining information and working together to identify, locate and apprehend suspected criminals around the world,” added the head of INTERPOL.

The Caravaggio painting, known as the ‘Taking of Christ’ or the ‘Kiss of Judas’ and reportedly worth tens of millions of Euros, is considered a national treasure in Ukraine. It was snatched from the country’s Museum of Western European and Oriental Art in Odessa in July 2008.