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French Police on Trail of Smugglers of Stolen Jiroft Artifacts


28 May 2005



In response to a request by Iran’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization, the French police have begun searching for the smugglers of several stolen artifacts from the ancient Iranian site of Jiroft which were recently scheduled to go on sale in Paris, the Persian service of the Cultural Heritage News (CHN) agency reported on Friday.


The sale of the items was stopped after Iranian cultural officials sued the institution that had organized the sale.


Meanwhile, the relevant documents proving Iranian ownership of the artifacts have been submitted to a French court by Iranian officials, and the French police are conducting an investigation to determine how the artifacts were transferred to the country. CHN did not state how many artifacts were involved.


Iran’s cultural heritage has been the target of smugglers for centuries. Several other lawsuits have been filed by Iranian officials in courts in Britain, Turkey, Belgium, and Pakistan for the return of smuggled artifacts over the past few years.


Iran recently sent an appeal to a Belgian court asking for the return of nine boxes of smuggled ancient artifacts and a 2800-year-old pin stolen from the exposition “7000 Years of Persian Art”.


In April, Iran also filed a legal complaint in a London court against the owner of an Achaemenid era bas-relief, demanding its return.


The artifact, along with a great collection of other historical and ancient Iranian relics, was to be sold at Christie’s at that time, but the London-based auction house withdrew the Iranian artifact from the sale pending judicial investigations.


On March 7, some 118 stolen ancient artifacts which had been smuggled to Britain from Jiroft were returned to Iran. The items had been confiscated by customs officials at London’s Heathrow Airport last summer.  




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