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Ex-banker who tried to smuggle Picasso piece out of Spain has sentence increased

By Associated Press Reporter

A former bank president found guilty of trying to smuggle a painting by Pablo Picasso out of Spain has had his sentence increased by a Spanish court.

The Madrid court announced the decision to raise the sentence against fined ex-Bankinter head Jaime Botin to three years instead of 18 months.

The move came after the prosecution detected an error in the original sentence handed down last month.

The court also raised the amount Botin was fined from 52.4 million euros (£44.5 million) to 91.7 million euros (£77.9 million).

The trial last year heard how a team of Spanish police experts flew to the French island of Corsica in 2015 to retrieve the painting, Picasso's masterpiece titled Head of a Young Woman.

The Spanish government had ruled that the painting, which is valued at some 24 million euros (£20.4 million), could not be taken out of the country.

The work was owned by Botin, an uncle of Ana Botin, president of the powerful Santander banking group.

Corsican authorities said they had been tipped off about an attempted smuggling of the prized painting from Spain by boat.

They said the oil painting, which comes from the Cubist master's "pink period" and features a woman with long black hair, was seized when the boat's captain was unable to produce a proper certificate.

On the boat, authorities found a document in Spanish confirming that the work was of "cultural interest" and was banned from leaving Spain, Picasso's homeland, without permission.

In the original sentence, the court awarded the painting to the Spanish state.

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