'Scream' lawyer pulls out

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The Independent Online
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THE Norwegian solicitor who represented a client making a ransom demand for Edvard Munch's The Scream, stolen last month from the National Gallery in Oslo, has dropped the case, writes Dalya Alberge.

Tor Erling Staff, the Oslo solicitor, said: 'I am not negotiating any more.' His decision follows a meeting on Sunday night with Jens Kristien Thune, chairman of the gallery board. Mr Staff said the gallery board had refused to accept his client's 'requirements' _ to make 700,000 available by noon today. Mr Staff maintains that his client did not steal the painting and does not have it in his possession, but that he is able to return it against payment.

Mr Thune said the National Gallery 'could never accept the amount', particularly as a request for proof of possession was rejected. 'As long as we are not sure they have it, we can't negotiate. But if they wanted further discussion, I was ready.'