Skip to comments.Cyprus takes legal action to recover stolen church treasures [looted by Turks-sold to Germans]
Posted on 03/27/2004 2:22:50 PM PST by Destro
Mar 11, 2004
Cyprus takes legal action to recover stolen treasures
By Staff Reporter
CYPRUS has filed a civil suit in a German court to retrieve antiquities stolen after the Turkish invasion and retrieved by the Bavarian authorities, which have withheld them since, the Legal Service said yesterday.
Following the occupation of northern Cyprus by Turkish troops, looters stripped the regions churches, removing an estimated 15, 000 to 20,000 icons, several dozen major frescoes and mosaics dating from the sixth to the fifteenth century as well as thousands of chalices, wooden carvings, crucifixes and Bibles.
Effort to retrieve the stolen goods bore fruit in 1997 when German police arrested 60-year-old Aydin Dikmen after he was videotaped selling stolen goods.
In apartments rented by Dikmen -- believed to be the mastermind behind the looting in the north -- hidden between walls and under the floors, police found frescoes, mosaics and icons estimated to be worth more then $40 million.
Since 1997, the state has been trying to repatriate the artefacts without any results. According to a statement issued by the legal service, Attorney-general Solon Nikitas travelled to Munich last September in an effort to put forward efficient procedures for their retrieval.
Nikitas held consultations with his Bavarian counterpart as well as the German lawyers representing the Republic and the three affected Churches Greek Orthodox, Maronite, Armenian concerning the actions needed to return the antiquities to Cyprus.
It was decided that the best action would be to file a suit with the German courts. The necessary testimonies and scientific material needed for the suit have been sent to the German lawyers who prepared the suit in co-operation with Byzantine expert Athanassios Papageorgiou.