Friday 11 November 2016

Arrests on Cyprus: Operation Pandora

Arrests have been made in connection with antiquities found in Limassol district in Cyprus.. A man was in remand for three days after it was found that ancient artefacts registered to his collection were no longer in it, but also for having in his possession a large number of illegally held archaeological objects. Police had earlier arrested three men and a woman in raids on three properties in the Limassol area. These raids were carried out within a Europe-wide operation, codenamed ‘Pandora’ to combat organised crime.
The operations were coordinated through Europol with the cooperation of Unesco, Interpol and the US authorities, and carried out simultaneously in 20 EU countries. A search of a home in Pissouri uncovered 1,145 clay pots and other items of metal and stone dating back to the Copper Age and Roman era. At an Erimi residence police discovered 157 objects which included ecclesiastical art, prehistoric artefacts and items from the Hellenistic and Roman periods. At a house in Mouttagiaka, the authorities found 22 copper coins from Roman and early Christian times. The searches were carried out by police and archaeological department officials. Apart from the unregistered artefacts found to be in the remanded man’s possession, he kept a collection for which he had a licence from the director of antiquities. However, police say that nine of these items were missing without him being able to give adequate explanations. Police requested his remand as they could not rule out the possibility the items had been sold.
The article's headline places this story in the setting of an earlier one carried by the newspaper (Philip Mark, 'Paphos mayor says he feel vindicated following archaeology arrests' Cyprus Mail November 11th, 2016). He had alleged earlier that museum staff in the town had been stealing artefacts from the museum stores for sale. The would-be whistle-blower mayor now claims that the new police raids confirm his accusation, because they show:
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 the police seem not to have arrested anyone from the Pahos museum community. Phedonos seems to be a fantasist.

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