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D-Day museum chief 'hides' tank in dad's barn

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D-Day museum chief 'hides' tank in dad's barn
A tank on display at the Airborn Museum at Sainte-Mère-Église in Normandy, where a former director has been charged with stealing artefacts. Photo: H Michel Hirraghi
15:44 CET+01:00
The former chief of a famous D-Day museum in Normandy has been accused of fraud after he used funds to buy priceless artfacts, including a tank and an armoured vehicle, which he then kept out of sight at his father's barn.

A former director of a D-Day museum in northern France is accused of using its funds to buy artefacts worth tens of thousands of euros and keeping them for himself.

Prosecutors say Patrick Bunel, who worked at the Airborne Museum in Sainte-Mère-Église near the site of two American landing beaches in Normandy, used the museum's money to buy World War II memorabilia which he did not hand over.

They called for a two-year suspended sentence late on Tuesday at a court in the port city of Cherbourg. A ruling will be delivered on March 25th.

Prosecutors have also sought suspended jail terms for four other accused: three sellers of World War II memorabilia and a museum employee.

Bunel has owned up to paying for new acquisitions for the museum - including a tank, an armoured vehicle, arms and jackets - in cash using the museum's funds, but insisted he planned to hand them over.

Some of the items were kept in a barn belonging to his father located about 85 kilometres (50 miles) away.

Bunel joined the Airborne Museum in 2006 and quit in 2011. He is currently head of the Normandy Tank Museum that opened last year near the town of Carentan.

The D-Day landings, which began on June 6th, 1944, helped change the course of the Second World War and led to the defeat of Nazi Germany.

Celebrations are due to take place later this year to mark the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings. 

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