Cyprus Mail

German court to rule on stolen Cypriot treasures in mid March

Some of the artefacts seized from Dikmen's apartments

On March 16 the German Court of Appeals will issue its final decision on the fate of the remaining 85 treasures stolen by a Turkish art smuggler from the north as effort to reach an amicable settlement by February 13 has failed, the Cyprus News Agency reported on Tuesday.

The treasures, including fragments of church wall paintings, icons, a manuscript of an Armenian gospel and 40 prehistoric antiquities, were found in 1997 in the possession of Turkish dealer in illicit antiquities Aydin Dikmen in apartments he maintained in Munich. A total of 173 looted treasures found in Dikmen`s possession in Munich have already been repatriated to Cyprus.

CAN said it had learned that although the German judge in December made a final attempt for an out-of-court friendly settlement by February 13, and despite the fact that there was a mutual proposal on behalf of the lawyers of the two sides, the Turkish dealer raised new claims which were rejected by the Cypriot side. Furthermore, the Turkish side responded to the Cypriot side`s proposals after the deadline, giving a negative answer.
Following this development, the German Court of Appeals is expected to issue its final decision on March 16.

A first conciliation procedure was proposed in 2008, but the effort collapsed.

One of the biggest cases of illicit trading in antiquities involving Dikmen was the plundering of the wall paintings from the church of Ayios Euphemianus and the 6th century wall mosaics from the Church of Panayia Kanakaria.

In October and November 1997 the German Police raided apartments maintained by the Turkish dealer in Munich. The number of works of art they uncovered, hidden behind a false wall, was massive.

The records kept by Dikmen have been submitted as evidence at the Bavarian Court. The detailed way in which he kept his records was unprecedented, according to CAN. They included photographs and sketches prior to the theft of the mosaics and wall paintings, photos taken during their removal and after. (CNA)

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