Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Easter Island mayor wants an 'ear for an ear' from vandal

The mayor of Easter Island said yesterday that he wished the Finnish tourist who is accused of chipping an earlobe off an ancient Moai could have his ear clipped off as "justice" for damaging one of the famous statues.

Marko Kulju, 26, issued a public apology through a Chilean newspaper yesterday, saying he regretted the incident that caused such an uproar on the South Pacific island, a Chilean territory. It was not known if Mayor Pedro Edmunds Paoa had read the published apology.

"If an ear is cut off, then an ear gets cut," Mr Edmunds Paoa said in a radio interview. "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth: That would be my form of justice."

In a letter published in the La Tercera newspaper, Mr Kulju said he sincerely apologised, "particularly to the residents of Easter Island".

Authorities accused him of breaking the ear off a Moai on Sunday and trying to take a piece of it as a souvenir. The statue is one of 400 carved out of volcanic rock representing ancestors of island residents.

At the Finnish embassy in Santiago, the consul, Patricia Loflund said she was in contact with Mr Kulju, who is expected to remain under house arrest at his hotel for 13 days before paying a fine. "He's very down and regrets what he did," Ms Loflund said. "It's very unlikely he will be given a prison sentence but we can't be sure, of course."

"He really didn't realise the magnitude of his actions," she said.

In Helsinki, Eero Vsara, chairman of a health club where Mr Kulju regularly practised fitness boxing, said that he was a responsible and well-liked person. He said: "We all make mistakes in our lives, and this was his mistake."