It is not uncommon for people to collect things as a hobby. While some collect artwork others collect stamps or wine. However, some choice of collections can land you in trouble with the law. Like an 84-year-old German man who was convicted of illegally possessing a World War II tank and other weapons. On Tuesday, a sitting court in the city of Kiel ruled that the octogenarian was required to part with his prized Panther-model tank.
Along with having a tank, the man was also convicted of illegally possessing an anti-aircraft gun, a flak cannon, and other military equipment from the World War II era. He received a suspended sentence and was ordered to pay a fine of € 250,000 ($297,000), a German news agency reported.
An Arsenal of WW II Weapons
According to the ruling, the man—whose name was withheld in accordance with German privacy law—must either donate or sell his tanker and anti-aircraft cannon to a collector or a museum within the next two years. He was also handed a suspended prison sentence of 14 months. The weapons seized from him included a torpedo, an 8.8-centimeter-caliber anti-aircraft gun, assault rifles, a mortar, and over 1,000 rounds of ammunition, according to Deutsche Presse-Agentur.
The illegal military 'arsenal' was discovered in the summer of 2015 by the German authorities who were investigating black market Nazi-era art. During such a raid at the collector's storage facility in his basement in northern Germany, the weapons were stumbled upon. No Nazi-era artwork was found. However, the raid turned into a two-day operation. About 20 soldiers worked for around nine hours to move the tanker that weighs over 40 tons.
Debate Over Breaking of Law
Though concluded, the case sparked a debate that questioned whether that 84-year-old collector has broken War Weapons Control Act that is in place in Germany. The law controls the manufacturing, selling, and transportation of weapons. According to RT-DE, his defense claimed that as most of the guns were not functional anymore and the tank itself was purchased as scrap.
Interestingly, the man is said to have flaunted his weapons collection. He even used the tank as a snowplow during bad weather, the Associated Press said citing local media reports. Prior to the announcement of the verdict, a confession was read out by the retiree's lawyer on his behalf.