Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Accusations of Theft in Paphos Museum

Look at the shelves behind his desk, icon and ancient pots.
Combative Paphos Mayor Phedonas Phedonos has been in the Cyprus news quite a lot recently. Now he is attacking local archaeologists and museum staff: Bejay Browne and Evie Andreou, 'Phedonos lashes out at antiquities head, refuses to retract allegations of artefact thefts ' Cyprus Mail 26th July 2016) . 
Paphos Mayor Phedonas Phedonos on Monday lashed out at the head of the antiquities department for reporting him to the Attorney-general’s office over allegations he made that her staff were stealing and selling artefacts from the basements of museums.The content and tone of the letter sent by antiquities director Marina Solomidou-Ieronymidou to the AG, was “unprecedented, inaccurate and unfortunate,” Phedonos said in a three-page letter of his own addressed to the antiquities chief on Monday night.
New details are now emerging (Spat over Paphos antiquities continues' Cyprus Mail August 9th, 2016). Phedonas Phedonos has claimed that some of the museum staff were stealing and selling artefacts from the basements of museums.The main reason for this, rather than anybody being caught doing this seems to be that the museum's cataloguing system is not up to scratch
Phedonos, in his turn, said that it has been 45 days since he made these reports to Ieronymidou, and that she is still “in no position to say how many thousands of ancient artefacts are in the storage facilities in question”. Ieronymidou said that there is in place a comprehensive storage, recording and registration system, which is being carried out scientifically and ethically. “We proceed gradually with digitisation, we have a way to go, but it is a long and costly task and it will continue,” she said.
.  .
Phedonos says that he is not convinced that a proper registration system is in place, while
“the looters and organised crime have entered the antiquities department”. This, he said, does not mean that the majority or all of the department’s officials steal antiquities, however, there is information that looting in Paphos is booming. It seems, he said, that looters found partners in the antiquities department.
He has however failed to give the evidence on which he bases this claim.

UPDATE 11th November 2016

The mayor of Paphos,  Phedon Phedonos is now claiming that the Operation Pandora results (Philip Mark, 'Paphos mayor says he feel vindicated following archaeology arrests' Cyprus Mail November 11th, 2016) vindicate his attacks on the museum. He had alleged earlier
that important artefacts, many of them removed during illegal excavations in the Paphos district, were being traded illegally in Limassol. The mayor recalled that he had spoken of warehouses and circles of people dealing in antiquities, something now confirmed by the police investigations and operations carried out in communities in the Limassol district.
Except now there is no mention of the main accusation that he was making, which was that the museum staff were involved.

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