NEWS

Antiquities squad progress in UK

The Greek police squad monitoring the trafficking of antiquities stopped the sale of several artifacts in London believed to have been illegally acquired from Greece, sources told Kathimerini yesterday. Greek police were in England last week for discussions with British officers, auction house officials and collectors about a huge cache of illegal antiquities discovered in a villa on the Aegean island of Schinoussa last month. But the officers also feared the high-profile Schinoussa case would compel antiquities traders to quickly sell illegally obtained artifacts before the police cracked down on them. Officers had been tipped off about a stash of artifacts in the store of an antiquities trader in London, sources said. Police are checking whether the items in London were originally from Greece and, if so, whether they were taken out of the country illegally. With the cooperation of the British authorities, Greek police officers intervened so the artifacts will not be sold during the course of the investigation. A team of Greek archaeologists is expected to visit London soon to examine the artifacts. If their provenance is discovered to be Greek, the government will begin procedures for their return, sources said. After their contacts in London, the police officers on the squad monitoring antiquities smuggling said they are expecting new developments in the near future. Sources said the feeling in the department is that the Schinoussa find may be a small part of a much broader case which could eventually prove to be one of the biggest breakthroughs in the antiquities trafficking field. The police officers have briefed Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras about their discoveries in London and the related investigation. Meanwhile, Greek authorities are also maintaining contact with police in Italy to exchange information about possible antiquities smuggling.