Two Portuguese teenagers who wrote their names on a gate of the former Nazi German death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau were fined and handed one-year suspended prison terms by a Polish court on Wednesday.
The Polish lawyer for the 17- and 18-year-olds says they regret and have apologized for putting their names and the date on the red brick gate of Birkenau, part of the Auschwitz complex, in southern Poland. The teens were there on July 28, while attending a world youths’ meeting with Pope Francis in Poland.
Under Polish law, any damage to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial is a crime. One of the teens used a pen to inscribe his name, the other a stone. They were caught by a guard at the site.
Defense lawyer Marcin Surowiec, who represented the teenagers before the regional court in Oswiecim, where the former camp is located, told The Associated Press he plans to appeal the sentences because his clients did not damage the gate.
From 1940-45, some 1.1 million Jews and others were killed in Auschwitz-Birkenau, which German Nazis operated in occupied Poland.