The former director of a WWII museum in northern France is facing charges of fraud after he was accused of using museum funds to purchase artifacts worth tens of thousands of euros and keeping them for himself.
Prosecutors say Patrick Bunel, who worked at the Airborne Museum in Sainte-Mere-Eglise 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.
AdvertisementThey called for a two-year suspended sentence late Tuesday at a court in the port city of Cherbourg. A ruling will be delivered on March 25.
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 6, 1944, helped change the course of the Second World War and led to the defeat of Nazi Germany.