Romania: Hundreds of Stolen Greek, Roman, Treasures seized

From Balkan Insight, July 29, 2019. Written by
Romanian authorities recovered hundreds of looted Greek and Roman artifacts as part of a major international operation cracking down on trafficking in cultural goods – whose results Europol unveiled on Monday.Romanian police seized 128 pieces of ancient Roman military equipment, 134 pieces of antique ceramics and 189 coins stolen from archeological sites as part of a joint operation conducted last autumn involving 29 countries, the EU Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, Europol, announced on Monday.The confiscated coins date back to the times of Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire, the statement said. Europol highlighted that the goods intercepted in Romania were among the “operation highlights”, a category that also included artifacts seized in Spain, Italy, Poland, Germany and The Netherlands.

 

“Dutch Police spotted a 15th-century bible that had been stolen in Germany over 25 years ago. This rare edition was seized and returned to Germany,” Europol said about one of the “highlights”. Another remarkable seizure, Europol said, was “an ancient Mesopotamian crystal cylinder seal that had been shipped to Germany by post” that was sequestrated by German Customs.

The cross-border operation, named “Pandora III”, took place last year between October 22 and 30 and resulted in the arrest of 59 individuals and the confiscation of 18,000 goods in total, including furniture, coins and paintings among other items. “The majority of objects seized during the operation were from European countries; however, more than 30 objects originated in countries outside Europe, such as Colombia, Egypt, Iraq and Morocco,” the Europol statement read.

The items were sold online on websites, social media or via instant messaging applications. The operation consisted of “inspections in auction houses, art galleries, museums and private [locations]”, as well as in raids on “ports, airports and border crossing points” and inspections at archaeological sites. Pandora III was launched by law enforcement authorities from 29 countries coordinated by the Spanish Civil Guard and supported by Europol, Interpol and the World Customs Organization, WCO.

According to the Council of Europe, CoE, “poor administrative capacity at both central and local level, corruption and improper economic conditions to follow heritage policies on medium and long terms” put cultural heritage in danger in Romania. However, the CoE noted, the capacity of the country’s judiciary to fight traffic of cultural goods has improved.

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