Saturday, April 22, 2006


Man Faces Charges in Greek Artifacts Case


Guardian Unlimited
April 20, 2006

ATHENS, Greece - Charges are expected to be filed against the caretaker of a Greek island villa where authorities confiscated part an illicit collection of nearly 300 antiquities, police said Wednesday.

Costas Grispos, a former mayor on the tiny island of Schoinoussa, was arrested Tuesday and is to be charged in connection with four ancient vases found in his own house, police said. Police said the pieces had been fished out of the sea, probably from a shipwreck.

Grispos is the caretaker of a shipping magnate's villa on the remote Aegean Sea islet where an April 12 raid found unregistered ancient artifacts. A raid on a house in Athens also turned up antiquities. Authorities said they recovered about 280 items in all.

The artifacts - some more than 3,000 years old - include a headless marble statue of Aphrodite, the ancient goddess of love, dating to Roman times; a marble sarcophagus decorated with sculpted human and animal masks; three marble busts and two granite sphinxes.

Police said an additional 36 artifacts were found at the sprawling villa Tuesday and Wednesday. They included three sections of wall-paintings from medieval churches, prehistoric stone tools and a late Roman column capital.

The search also uncovered 17 albums with photos of artifacts, police said.

Police started transferring the seized items to Athens museums Wednesday.

An official at the Byzantine Museum said eight crates had arrived with an undisclosed number of artifacts. ``They will remain here until the case comes to court,'' deputy museum director Evgenia Halkia said.

Greek authorities are investigating whether the artifacts are linked to the illicit trade in unregistered antiquities that is behind a dispute between Greece and the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

Culture Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis said Tuesday there was no evidence to back media reports of a link to Getty, and the museum said it has no connection to the items that were seized.

Greece is demanding the return of four ancient artifacts from the Getty, claiming they are among thousands believed to have been illegally exported as part of a booming trade in the country's priceless archaeological heritage.


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