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Geneva's efforts to protect global cultural heritage

A success story in the fight against illicit traffic

Geneva's efforts to protect global cultural heritage

© MAH

On 22 November 2016, the public prosecutor of Geneva confiscated nine archaeological works from Syria, Yemen and Libya that were stored in free ports from 2009 to 2010. The investigation began in April 2013, when the Federal Customs Administration conducted a routine inspection of free ports and found works it suspected were illegally obtained. In January 2015, an expert appointed by the Federal Office for Culture's specialised unit on the international transfer of cultural property confirmed the authenticity and major cultural significance of the works. In February 2016, based on the Federal Office for Culture's recommendation, the Customs Administration referred the case to the public prosecutor of Geneva, which opened criminal proceedings and confiscated the works. The evidence gathered during the investigation led the public prosecutor to conclude that the confiscated works had indeed been looted. Until they could be returned to their countries of origin, the public prosecutor of Geneva entrusted them to the scientific experts at the Musées d’art et d’histoire de la Ville de Genève for safekeeping and to make the public aware of this important seizure. 

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