Wednesday, 5 October 2016

More on the Patras Bust - They Have Buyers' Names

Guns and ancient coins
More on the bust of the smuggling ring precipitated when the two alleged ringleaders were arrested on Sunday at the Greek-Bulgarian border, and had almost 1,000 coins and small artefacts hidden in the bumper of their car (Helen Stoilas, 'Police in Greece arrest 26 in bust of alleged antiquities smuggling ring', Art Newspaper 5 October 2016). This potentially has serious repercussions for the antiquities trade going beyond the borders of Greece. Very much a case of caveat emptor::
 Greek police have busted what they say is a criminal organisation that has been looting antiquities from ancient sites in the country for the past 10 years and smuggling them out to auction houses and private buyers in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the UK. A spokesman for the Patras police department in western Greece, which led the 14-month investigation, said on Wednesday that more than 50 people were involved in the ring and 26 arrests have been made. [...]  Police said the works were sold using fake provenance documents attributing them to private collections in Europe, but that the auction houses involved (which have not been named) knew the coins were illicit property and often helped inflate the final prices paid for them. Officials added that extensive paperwork will help them track down many of the objects that have already been sold. “For very many of the coins we have full documentation, starting from when they were discovered in the earth to the auction at which they were sold,” the police spokesman Haralambos Sfetsos told The Associated Press.
And when those buyers are apprehended for handling stolen material, it will be interesting to see what documentation they have for their acquisitions.

Let us have some naming and shaming. Collectors want the Medici archives made public, let us see the Patras Ring archives made public after the rest of the arrests have been made so we can all see who was handling the stuff. Will we see the International dealers' associations joining in that call? Publish the Patras Ring archives while they are fresh and before the stolen artefacts change hands again.


lalbertson said...

Greek law provides for the competence of prosecutors to decide on the naming of persons accused or suspected, whereas in the latter case the naming of tax evaders is laid down as an obligation of Greek tax authorities. As naming the suspect offender in relation to an illegal conduct constitutes an integral component of shaming different countries (Greece, Italy, The Netherlands for example) often adopt the use initials or leave the individual unnamed when making announcements to the wider public.

In 2007, the Greek Parliament, partially in response to public anger following the rape of a 9 years old girl by a man already once convicted for rape, enacted an amendment of the Greek Data Protection Law which provided that the competent Public Prosecutor be entitled to allow the publication of the names of persons involved in criminal charges or convictions. According to the law the publication of criminal charges (i.e. pre-adjudication) or convictions aims at the protection of the community, most often used in relation to protection of minors and of vulnerable or disadvantaged groups. Not seen so often in relation to the fields of antiquities trafficking though you really have to dig to get details on the cast of characters.

angelo di ragusa said...

Also Greek law gives a difference between minor crimes of less than 18000 euros in value and those above/

Looking at this material is seems to be maainly of low value so hence low aentences or fines can be expected to be handed down

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