African Crown Jewels Stolen in Norway

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Paul Vreeker / REUTERS

Otumfuo Osei Tutu, King of the Ashanti, visiting Dutch Queen Beatrix, in 2002.

On Thursday, the King of the Ashanti kingdom in Ghana had his dominion’s historic crown jewels stolen — a theft that could lead to his dethronement. But the daring robbery did not happen in the royal city of Kumasi in Central Ghana nor on the streets of the capital Accra, but in the sleepy Norwegian capital Oslo.

King Otumfuo Osei Tutu II was in Oslo representing his country at a Norwegian-African Business Summit. The suitcase containing the crown jewels was stolen at the venue of the conference, the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel, the BBC reported. “For anyone who knows our tradition, it will be clear that these crown jewels have tremendous value,” the king’s secretary Kofi Owusu Boateng told the BBC. The king, 62, has been the nominal ruler of the Ashanti kingdom since 1999.

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Sociologist Nana Obiri Yeboah, described as “an expert in traditional and chieftaincy affairs”, told the Ghanian media outlet Joy News that King Otumfuo, the 16th king of Ashanti, could be forced to abdicate  should he return to Ghana without the crown jewels. “The fear is that the ancestors will revisit you with diseases and calamities,” Yeboah said. “It has haunted so many families which have dissipated these legacies that is why it is a worry to many Ashantis and other people.”

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Norwegian police told local media that they would give “high priority” to the case, Views and News from Norway reported.   Police had good video footage of the theft, which would help with the investigations. The Northern European kingdom, already in the spotlight this week due to this year’s Nobel Prize announcements, is generally considered one of the safest countries in the world.

The royal palace has not yet issued a statement on the missing jewels.

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