NEWS

Four charged over artifact stash

Four members of a shipping family were charged yesterday in connection with a large collection of illegal antiquities that was found earlier this year at a villa on a tiny Aegean island. Prosecutor Eleni Raikou brought criminal charges against Despina Papadimitriou, the alleged owner of the villa on the island of Schinoussa, and her three children, Alexandros, Dimitris and Angeliki. The four suspects have been charged with illegally possessing, receiving and trading antiquities. Authorities said that 152 artifacts were found at the villa on Schinoussa and at the family's Athenian home in Psychico, northern Athens. The total value of the items which have so far been assessed by experts is 982,000 euros. The artifacts, some of which are more than 3,000 years old, were discovered when authorities raided the two homes in April in what is considered to be one of the biggest antiquity hauls in Greece. Despina Papadimitriou is the sister of the late antiquities dealer Christos Michailidis, who died in 1999. Sources said the four suspects told authorities that they inherited the collection from the London-based dealer. Michailidis worked with London-based dealer Robin Symes. The Papadimitriou family was involved in a two-year legal battle with Symes and eventually won the right to half the collection amassed by the two men. However, sources said that witnesses told authorities that some of the antiquities arrived on the island six months before police raided the villa. In a separate incident yesterday, four people were arrested for illegally digging next to an archaeological site in Priasos, Crete. Police said they arrested the suspects after finding a metal detector, digging tools and various weapons in two cars at the site.

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