Police get Italian help in seeking lost artifacts

Greek police are joining forces with their counterparts in Italy and other countries to find thousands of ancient artifacts smuggled out of the country and sold for extortionate sums, officers in charge of Greece’s illegal antiquities trade unit told Kathimerini yesterday. Police said the operation would focus on tracing the museums or collectors who have come into possession of the stolen artifacts, noting that an overwhelming 90 percent of antiquities discovered in Greece end up abroad. Italy secured the repatriation of some of its own lost artifacts from the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles late last year while Greece is still seeking the return of four of its own pieces from the Getty. According to Public Order Ministry figures, last year there was a rise in illegal sales of artifacts with 75 cases recorded as compared to 60 in 2004.