A Frenchman is on trial in France accused of looting some of the country’s best historical sites after being caught with thousands of ancient artefacts. He is accused of using his metal detector to pillage archaeological sites ('French sites pillaged by wannabe archaeologist ' The Local, 30 Jul 2014).
While taking the stand in his own defence this week a Frenchman accused of looting thousands of valuable historical items from some of the country’s most culturally important sites, explained his crime simply. “I always wanted to be an archaeologist, but I couldn’t,” the 60-year-old winemaker told a court in the Paris suburb of Meaux on Tuesday, AFP reported. For years he’d used a metal detector to scour sites that are protected by law, taking home a piece here and a piece there. Until he had a collection of some 2,300 items including coins, pottery, rings and necklaces that prosecutors say is worth tens of thousands of euros. French customs authorities have asked the court to impose a €200,000 fine on the man, who is accused of illegally searching archaeological sites. Judges will decide whether he is guilty at a later date.The man was not named in media reports. His activities came to light by pure chance in February 2012 when customs officers pulled him over during a routine check, and found in his car 112 Gallo-Roman coins, which led prosecutors to order a search of the man’s home, where they found a large number of artefacts he'd amassed and hidden away through the years. His collection has since been turned over to the Ministry of Culture.