Wednesday 22 December 2010

Stolen Iraqi Artefacts Seized in Germany, but no Prosecution

A group of 15 stolen artefacts from Iraq has reportedly been seized in Krefeld, Germany (near the Dutch border) after being offered there for sale. The three sellers had demanded 2.5 million euros for the items from a police officer who in a 'sting' operation had posed as an art buyer. The suspects, who are German, Turkish and Iraqi, have refused to tell police how they acquired the goods.

Valuers suggested that the whole loot is only worth 10,000 euros. One of the items is a green seal stone carved with human figures and stag- like animals. It had been looted from the Iraqi National Museum during the 2003 US-led invasion and was originally excavated at Chafangi. A stone figure seized represents one of the two Babylonian kings named Nebuchadnezzar. Interestingly, two of the items seized were modern copies.

It seems that the gang from whom the artefacts were confiscated may escape prosecution because of legal technicalities. It appears that an indictment for receiving stolen goods "would probably fail because necessary evidence could not be obtained from Iraq and because it would be argued that the goods were not worth 15 million euros (20 million dollars), as first thought".

Frank Christiansen, Stolen Iraqi artefacts seized in Germany, but sellers to go free Deutsche Presse-Agentur Dec 22, 2010.

See also my post on an earlier seizure of looted Iraqi artefacts in Germany.

Vignette: ABC News (not the artefacts mentioned in this story)

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