Thursday 21 September 2023

"They Can't Touch Yer for It" in Germany

In Germany, much was made of the new law (the Act on the Protection of Cultural Property) that entered into force in August 2016 penalizing the illegal export, import and trade of cultural property from and to Germany. There have been some repatriations to neighbouring EU states as a result of it (in 2018 three items, in 2019 over 1,000, in 2020 38, in 2021 a total of 884, in 2022 10, and so far this year 15). However, there are problems convicting people accused of breaking current legal regulations, because these acts are difficult to prove (for example in all of Bavaria since 2017, only two verdicts have been issued in against people prosecuted under the Cultural Property Protection Act). So, in a recent case (, 'Freispruch in Prozess um antike Silberteller aus der Ukraine' 19.09.2023) a trial involving ancient silver plates from Ukraine ended in acquittal (worth noting, as far as I can see, there is no evidence here that anyone is contesting that the plates actually were dug up in Ukraine and ended up on the Munich market - that to me is the actual point of importance): 

"On Tuesday, a district court in Munich acquitted a man of illegally importing antique silver plates from Ukraine to Germany. He was charged with violating the Act on the Protection of Cultural Property. Even the prosecutor who brought charges against him had to admit in his justification that he could not be proven to have committed a crime. Like the defence, she also demanded acquittal. A man brought fragments of two silver plates dating from the 2nd to 4th centuries AD to an auction house in Grasbrunn near Munich to auction them off. The relics are believed to be Ukrainian cultural assets, originating from looters' excavations in the Ternopil region of Ukraine in 2016–2017. The prosecutor's office assumed that he imported them to Germany illegally in 2019-2020. On Tuesday, the court decided that this could not be proven to the accused. It cannot be ruled out that he could have bought the works "from a dealer in Stuttgart a long time ago" and "that these items had been in the auction house for a long time."

(and so before the new law). So now some guy can buy this stuff, safe in the knowledge that in this case because there is no actual documentation, "They Can't Touch Yer for It"

[anyone got any more information? Like where did the prosecutor get the general location of the findspot and 2016-7?] 

 Hat tip Alexander Nagel

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