- A Kansas man was spared prison time in Israel after a judge agreed with his lawyer’s assertion that he was suffering from ‘Jerusalem syndrome’ when he smashed up 2,000-year-old statues in a museum
An American tourist who smashed two antique statues worth over $1.2 million at an Israeli museum has been acquitted but sent to hospital for medical treatment.
Steven Porth, 40, hurled the pair of 2,000 year old Roman sculptures to the floor shattering them into several pieces while visiting the museum in October.
Following the incident questions were raised about the security of museums in Israel and it came just two days before Hamas’ barbaric assault on the Jewish state on October 7.
Police originally said it was a ‘religious attack’ and claimed that Porth vandalized the statues because they were against the Torah, Judaism’s most important text.
But at the time his British lawyer Nick Kaufman told MailOnline the attack at the Israel Museum was not ‘religiously motivated’ because Porth was suffering from ‘Jerusalem syndrome.’
Images released by authorities showed the sculptures that had been removed from their pedestals and lying on the floor, one with a severed head
One of the statues broken into several pieces at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem
Mr Kaufmann used this defense at his client’s trial in the Israeli capital earlier this week. The judge agreed with him and acquitting Porth on criminal charges but sentencing him to a medical facility.
The damaged statues were a head of Athena, the daughter of the Greek god Zeus, and a statue of a griffin grasping the wheel of fate of the Roman god Nemesis were the ones damaged.
Both have since been removed and are undergoing repair and experts are hopeful of putting them back on display in the near future.
According to a court document seen by MailOnline Judge Shmuel Herbst acquitted him of vandalism but ordered him to attend a hospital for four years – the maximum sentence he would have received if found guilty.
Mr Kaufman said:’ My client was suffering from a condition known as Jerusalem syndrome, he meant no ill will and it was not religiously motivated.’
The attorney explained his client was overcome with the emotion of seeing the art and as such had reacted violently.
A medical report deemed him fit to stand trial but also said that at the time of the incident he was not responsible for his actions.
Security cameras recorded Forth’s exploits and the police claimed that he had stayed behind in the museum until closing time to carry out the attack.
The museum said only that the two artifacts destroyed were ‘ancient Roman statues dating to the 2nd century CE’ housed in the archaeology wing (Stock Image)
According to the investigators, Porth intended to break more art sculptures, but his actions created such a noise that staff rushed in and managed to stop him.
Following his arrest he said he didn’t regret what he’d done and that he wanted to attack statues on a previous visit to the Jewish state.
During initial questioning, he told police that the statues were ‘against his faith and religion’ insisting they were ‘works of idolatry.’Porth is expected to remain in Israel for medical treatment.
Eli Escozido, (CORR) director of Israel’s Antiquities Authority, said: ‘We see with concern the fact that cultural values are being destroyed by religiously motivated extremists.
‘We will speak with the management of the Israel Museum to ensure that such incidents do not reoccur.’