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The goal justifies the means

Sometimes it is actually okay to negotiate with criminals.


This past week, the debate has raged around the circumstances that brought the paintings "Scream" and "Madonna" back to the Norwegian people. VG has revealed that there is an agreement where criminals are likely to receive a penalty for having the pictures corrected. Dishwashing, publication of the agreement and legal interrogation by Justice Minister Knut Storberget are now required. The principle tab is held high, there should be equality for the law.

The robbery when the paintings in August 2004 were brutally torn down from the walls of the Munch Museum shook both the Norwegian national feeling and the international art world. It was not sophisticated burglars, but brutal, armed men who grabbed two of art's most famous works. The news went around the world, the paintings became even more famous – and in Norway we forgot for a while almost of the brutal robbery that was recently carried out in the oil city of Stavanger. Just like the robbers planned it.

The pursuit of the paintings lasted for two years. In the meantime, we were given constant information about the police's hunt for robbers and paintings, and a simultaneous rebuilding and security of the museum. We followed the hunt for the pictures via an empty bus at Skedsmo to arrest and charge a number of suspects. The frustration was paralyzing when police thought they had the right robbers but had not seen the snapshot of the pictures. That is why Attorney General Terje Nybøe publicly stated in February last year that he was willing to give a substantial penalty rebate to those who revealed where the pictures were. And so it should come as no surprise to anyone that such a rebate is given to the person or persons who helped the images to rectify.

We basically agree with those who express concern about such an agreement, who believe it is wrong to negotiate with criminals and who require those responsible to be punished anyway. But if it was ever right to demonstrate the exception to the rule, it was in this case. It wasn't obvious that "Scream" and "Madonna" would come to an end. The alternative was that the irreplaceable national calendars were never found.

In such a situation, it is subordinate to whether an agreement gives Toska better sentence conditions or middlemen lesser punishment. In order to reach an agreement for the return of the paintings, the police have had to rely on a certain amount of leeway to negotiate with those who knew where the pictures were. It's not wrong, it makes sense.

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