Easter Island mayor wants 'ear for ear' justice

Image: East er Island Statue, right earlobe stolen
A photo released by Chilean Investigative Police shows one of the massive Moai statues whose right earlobe was stolen by a Finnish tourist in Easter Island on March 23. Chilean Investigative Police / AP file
/ Source: The Associated Press

An ear for an ear?

The angry mayor of Easter Island said Thursday he wished the Finnish tourist accused of chipping an earlobe off an ancient Maoi could have his ear clipped off as "justice" for damaging one of the world-famous statues.

Finnish tourist Marko Kulju, 26, issued a public apology through a Chilean newspaper on Thursday, saying he regretted the incident that has 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," Edmunds Paoa told Cooperative radio. "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth: That would be my form of justice."

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

Authorities accused him of breaking the ear off a Maoi 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.

** FILE ** View of the Moais, the giant volcanic rock statues, at the Eastern Island, Chile, in this Feb. 2007 file photo. Eastern Island is among the leading contenders to be the new seven wonders of the world as a massive poll enters its final month with votes already cast by more than 50 million people, organizers say. The seven winners will be announced July 7, 2007 in Lisbon, Portugal. (AP Photo/La Tercera) ** CHILE OUT **LA TERCERA

At the Finnish embassy in Santiago, Consul Patricia Loflund said she was in contact with 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," 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 realize the magnitude of his actions," she said.

In the Finnish capital of Helsinki thousands of miles away, the chairman of a health club where Kulju regularly practiced fitness boxing said he was a responsible and well-liked person.

"We haven't had a single bad experience with him; quite the opposite," Eero Vsara told The Associated Press.

"We all make mistakes in our lives, and this was his mistake."