A Greek court has given four-year jail sentences to two Bulgarian women who smeared centuries-old artifacts in three Athens museums with oil, in what they said was for religious purposes.
Defense lawyer Maria Constantopoulou said her clients believed they were ridding the world of evil spirits and purifying the artifacts of the Christian-era by anointing them with oil.
The two women damaged exhibits at the Byzantine and Christian, Benaki and National Historical Museums by spraying them with an oily mix. Museum staff testified that some of the stains on marble and wooden exhibits are indelible.
The two women said that they acted "under the guidance of the Holy Spirit" in order to "sever relations with evil spirits".
The prosecuting attorney said that the women were confused because of their extreme religiosity, but "there is no issue of insanity, in the sense of not being responsible for their actions" and called on the court to sentence them without any mitigating circumstances.
Police arrested the two cleaning ladies, aged 51 and 48, this month in a museum after guards, on the alert after two recent, similar attacks in other museums, saw them smearing a display case.
Many of the damaged artifacts required extensive conservation.