US judge hands down jail sentence over theft of Kościuszko statue
PR dla Zagranicy
A 34-year-old man has been handed down a six-month jail sentence for the theft of a Chicago statue of Polish and American hero General Tadeusz Kościuszko.
Police were tipped off about a possible theft on 18 September 2015, after a member of the public saw two men dragging a statue along an avenue in the American city.
When police tracked the suspects down to a Chicago garage, defendant Israel L. Soberanes was sawing off the head of the bronze statue, which had previously adorned a park in the city.
Pleading guilty in court, Soberanes said he had intended the sell off the statue as scrap metal.
It is expected that Soberanes will be deported from the US as part of a plea deal, and he had already served the six months behind bars prior to sentencing.
Meanwhile, alleged accomplice David Martinez is awaiting trial.
The statue is currently being restored and it is due to return to the park, which bears the name of the Polish soldier.
Chicago is a major bastion of the Polish diaspora in the United States, with over 1.5 million people claiming Polish ancestry in the wider Chicago metropolitan area.
Born in 1746 in lands that are in present-day Belarus, Kościuszko fought for both American and Polish independence, winning admirers among both his political allies and foes.
He led a doomed Polish national uprising in 1794, after Russia initiated the second partition of the country, in league with Austria and Prussia.
Kościuszko persuaded both nobles and peasants to fight, but after initial successes, the insurgents were overwhelmed by Russian forces. Kosciuszko was imprisoned in St Petersburg by Tsarina Catherine the Great, and the remaining Polish lands were absorbed by the conquerors.
Kościuszko was freed in 1796 by Tsar Paul, Catherine's heir, and he lived in exile in Switzerland until his death in 1817. (nh/pk)