Friday, 24 October 2014

Germany attracts trade in looted artifacts

Philipp Jedicke, 'Crime: Germany attracts trade in looted artifacts' 24.10.2014.
Day in and day out, go-betweens smuggle looted art from the war zones in the Middle East first to Turkey or Lebanon, and then on to, for instance, the Dubai foreign trade zone. Here, the artifacts can either be purchased on the spot, or they are shipped to antiques dealers and auction houses in Europe and the US, complete with export documents supplied by the intermediary.[...] Germany's culture and media minister, Monika Grütters, this week announced new legislation aimed at turning a 2007 law on the repatriation of cultural assets into an effective tool against the import of stolen goods. "Germany must make sure it doesn't turn into a hub for this," she said. However, according to Sylvelie Karfeld of Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), Germany has already become a major trading zone. In fact, the BKA official responsible for the fight against the illicit antiquities trade describes the country as an "El Dorado of the illegal cultural artifacts trade." In an interview with Germany's NDR broadcaster, Karfeld said that under current German law, "a simple chicken's egg is more thoroughly protected and tagged than the most valuable antique." How could that happen?

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