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Finnish Tourist Who Broke Ear off Easter Island Statue Allowed to Leave Chile

A Finnish tourist who chipped an earlobe off an ancient Moai on Easter Island is being allowed to go home after paying a $17,000 fine and agreeing not to return for three years, police said Tuesday.

Marko Kulju, 26, deposited the money into a bank account overseen by the court that handled his case, the Easter Island prosecutor's office said in a statement.

At prosecutors' request, Kulju also wrote a public apology for damaging the figure, one of 400 statues carved out of volcanic rock between 400 and 1,000 years ago to represent deceased ancestors. The statues are protected by Chilean law.

Kulju was taken into custody after being caught trying to steal a piece of the Moai's ear as a souvenir two weeks ago by a local Rapanui woman, who reported him to police on the South Pacific island.

Kulju called his attempted theft "the worst mistake of my life," in comments published by the Santiago daily newspaper La Tercera in its online edition Tuesday.

It was not clear exactly when he planned to leave the island, a Chilean territory.