Wednesday 17 July 2013

Macedonia's Kuzman Questioned

On a metal detecting blog near you, a metal detectorist is beside himself with excitement that, as he puts it, "a RECENT ARTICLE [...] kind of puts things in perspective". The "things" he has in mind are the debates about policies towards artefact hunting and collecting. The article contains allegations about the illicit antiquities trade. Sinisa Jakov Marusic and Sase Dimovski ('Top Macedonian Archaeologist Held Over Artefacts Smuggling' Balkan Insight 15 Jul 13) report that the head of Macedonia’s Cultural Heritage Protection Office, Pasko Kuzman, has been arrested in connection with a major investigation into the smuggling of antiquities out of Macedonia in which state officials are alleged to have been involved.
According to what little information has emerged from the court so far, Kuzman is being questioned for his alleged involvement in an ongoing investigation into the smuggling of valuable icons and archaeological artefacts. Several archaeologists, employees of the culture ministry and illegal excavators have already been charged with involvement in the case. The archaeologists are accused of helping the illegal excavators to determine the price of their artefacts and to find buyers abroad. Around midday on Monday, Kuzman was brought in handcuffs to the investigative judge at Skopje criminal court for questioning. The judge must decide whether to keep him in detention. As head of the Cultural Heritage Protection Office, over the past few years Kuzman oversaw the main archaeological digs across the country.
He has often been seen in recent years in the company of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski. Kuzman is best known in archaeological circles for his involvement in the dispute with Greece over the Greek heritage of Macedonia/Macedonian heritage of Greece, and in particular the search for a 'Tomb of Alexander [the Great]' on Macedonian territory.It is not clear whether Kuzman has just been brought in for questioning, or whether charges will be brought. It also remains to be seen whether these allegations are not part of some provocation by political (or academic) rivals, we saw a similar attempted smear campaign in the case of Zahi Hawass two years ago. One to keep an eye on.

Hat tip to Dick Stout 

UPDATE: Important, see more recent news on this case:
"Update on Kuzman Case" Wednesday, 17 July 2013.

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