Tirunelveli: Police on Friday nabbed an idol thief who has been absconding for over two decades.
Sanjeevi Ashokan, from Thiruvananthapuram, the main accused in the theft of 1,500-year old idols from Munreswaramudaiyar temple in the district had been on the run for the last 22 years.
He was arrested by personnel of the Idol Theft Prevention Wing on March 9 and produced before the Judicial Magistrate in Kumbakonam Saturday, they said.
He has been remanded and lodged in Tiruchi central prison, police said.
The case relates to the theft of 'Dwara Balagar' statues from the temple near Veeravanallur in the district in 1995.
The idols had been sold to an art gallery in Australia reportedly for Rs 4.98 crore, police said.
Though police had originally registered a case in 1995, they closed it after investigations, as 'not traceable.'
Inspector general of police (Idol Wing) A G Pon Manickavel took up the 'closed case' last year and found that the stolen idols had been smuggled to Australia.
The idols had allegedly been sold to persons with links to an international idol smuggler.
While Ashokan has been arrested, another accused Seetha Ramaiah had passed away.