Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Swedish Treasure Trial Underway

A while ago I posted a text on the Gandave (Gotland) hoard looted from under the noses of an archaeological team by nocturnal thieves. One of the men accused of the crime turned out to be a Stockholm coin dealer (I wonder if a member of the PNG/ IAPN and ACCG?). Anyway, their trial is just beginning. The charges the defendants face include preparation of aggravated crime against relics and aggravated crime against relics, which carries a penalty of up to four years in prison. The defendants have denied the charges.

The suspects were linked to the crime scene by the discovery of a broken crucifix left behind in the looters' holes. Several days later somebody watching internet sales discovered traces of the purchase of what was obviously part of the same crucifix. The police raided the home of the purchaser, a man from southern Sweden, and retrieved the stolen artefact. From the buyer the trail led the Police back to a well-known coin dealer in Stockholm.
During a raid on his property on Gotland, investigators came across muddy clothes, metal detectors, shovels, backpacks and a car especially equipped with night vision. After examining computers and GPS equipment, police also found links between the defendants and two other places where looters had struck on Gotland.

Wednesday's trial is important because it is the first time since the laws on relics were made more strict in the 1990’s that one of these cases have been brought to trial. “We have seen many investigations over the past few years that have had to be dropped due to lack of evidence,“ said local police officer Mikael Åslund to daily Dagens Nyheter (DN) In 2009 there were 18 reports of unauthorized digging on Gotland, three of which are part of the prosecution’s evidence in the ongoing trial against the five men.

But since the police apprehended the looters in November 2009, there have been no more reports. “It is our feeling that looters have gone under ground, “ Östergren told DN.
I presume rather than clandestine illegal digging going on in a more clandestine and illegal manner, it means the clandestine illegal diggers have stopped - being aware that they can be traced through people keeping a track on the sales of items of dubious provenance.

Rebecca Martin, 'Looted Viking treasure trial gets under way', 4 May 2011

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