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24 June, 2024
 
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60 Cyprus relics to be repatriated from Germany

Agreement concludes 27-year legal battle to repatriate ecclesiastical and prehistoric artifacts from Turkish smuggler

Newsroom / CNA

The long-running case involving Turkish antiquities smuggler Aydin Dikmen reached its conclusion Tuesday with an agreement signed for the repatriation of 24 ecclesiastical relics and 36 prehistoric and other antiquities to Cyprus by June 20.

According to a press release from the Synodal Committee, this marks a "historic day and a day of joy" as it concludes a 27-year effort to recover Cypriot relics looted following the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in July 1974.

The Committee detailed how Dikmen, in cooperation with the occupation regime and his collaborators, looted over 50 Greek Orthodox, Maronite, and Armenian Christian monuments, as well as antiquities from occupied archaeological museums and private collections.

The 1997 raid on Dikmen's premises uncovered thousands of objects, including 318 relics of Cypriot origin. Among these were 6th-century mosaics, frescoes from the 8th to 15th centuries, icons, doors, manuscripts, and various prehistoric artifacts.

The legal battle began in 2004, culminating in a 2010 decision by the Munich District Court. However, Dikmen's appeal led to partial repatriations of 173 relics in July 2013 and another 85 in August 2015.

The final chapter of the Dikmen case was sealed with the agreement signed in Munich for the return of the remaining 60 relics, including ecclesiastical and prehistoric items, by June 20.

The Church of Cyprus extended its gratitude to all who contributed to the successful resolution of the case, including representatives of the Munich Police, the General Prosecutor's Office, the Judicial Authorities, the Cyprus Police, and the Department of Antiquities. Special thanks were given to experts Dr. Johannes Deckers and Dr. Katerina Hadjistylli for identifying the objects, as well as Tasoula Hadjitofi, former Consul of Cyprus in The Hague, the late Byzantinologist Athanasios Papageorgiou, and Enno Engbers, the lawyer for the Republic of Cyprus.

The statement concluded with the announcement that approximately 60 antiquities will be repatriated to Cyprus after June 20.

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