Antiquities bill goes to Parliament

With a seven-month delay, the Ministry of Culture has finally tabled in Parliament what successive socialist Culture Ministers have been promising for the past six years; an overhaul of Greece’s antiquities laws – the bulk of which date to 1932. According to a draft bill made public yesterday – and tabled on Tuesday by Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos – owners of objects up to 172 years old and in some cases, less than a century old, must declare them to the authorities on pain of up to three years’ imprisonment. All objects dating before 1453 automatically belong to the State, while later artifacts – dating up to 1930 – can be owned by individuals under certain conditions. Restrictions also apply to the possession of objects up to 100 years old that are designated as monuments by ministerial decree «due to their particular social, technical, folk, ethnological or historic, artistic or academic significance.» The draft bill also provides for up to 10 years’ imprisonment for the deliberate damage of monuments of «particularly great importance» by terrorists or organized groups.