Friday, February 17, 2012

Olympia Museum Robbed

Armed robbers raid Greece's Ancient Olympia museum

Armed robbers seized dozens of items on display at the museum in Ancient Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympics in southern Greece, after tying up an employee on Friday.

Greece's Culture Minister Pavlos Geroulanos submitted his resignation after the robbery. The thieves reportedly used hammers to smash display cases.

Police and museum authorities did not have an immediate account of the items taken. However, reported that at least 60 artifacts had been stolen.

Sporting authorities are to hold a ceremony at the museum on May 10 to light the Olympic flame for the London Games.




This seems to be incontrovertible evidence that Greece, given her present difficulties, cannot at this time be considered a safe custodian for ancient artifacts.

The USA should immediately suspend repatriation of artifacts to Greece and enforcement of import restrictions requested by Greece, until an impartial investigation determines whether the Greek government is capable of providing secure custody of the artifacts for which it is presently responsible.

This investigation must not be conducted by the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Cultural Heritage Center Director Maria Kouroupas, the official responsible for administering the 1983 Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act, was educated as an archaeologist and has close ties both to the American Institute for Archaeology and the Greek Government. The biased actions of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs under the Kouroupas regime have resulted in the State Department being sued by US antiquities collectors in an effort to secure judicial review of ECA's maladministration of the CCPIA.



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