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Athens News Agency: News in English, 12-03-05

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Large number of invaluable artifacts recovered
  • [02] Vessel with oil sinks- Captain missing

  • [01] Large number of invaluable artifacts recovered

    The 45 suspected members of a major antiquities smuggling ring uncovered in northern Greece, including a 66-year-old man believed to be the masterminded of the ring, will testify before an examining magistrate on Tuesday and Wednesday, after appearing before a Thessaloniki public prosecutor on Sunday afternoon, facing felony charges.

    Authorities stumbled onto the ring by chance in mid-2011, following the disappearance of a 68-year-old man after his involvement in a traffic accident in Pefkochori, Halkidiki. Police sought and received permission to lift the confidentiality of telephone conversations at the time, and uncovered suspicious discussions in which the 68-year-old was seeking to sell ancient artifacts.amna

    In the course of the investigation, a 66-year-old man, suspected of masterminding the illicit trade in antiquities was arrested, along with 44 other suspects, ranging in ages from 25-74 -- including pensioners, municipal employees and professionals.

    According to police, the 66-year-old aimed to sell the antiquities, recovered during illegal excavations, abroad. Often times the artefacts were sent abroad in envelopes and in small quantities in order to avoid suspicion.amna

    Authorities said the ring was mainly active in northern and central Greece, namely, in Halkidiki, Thessaloniki, Kilkis, Pella, Imathia, Pieria, Serres, Kavala, Drama, Karditsa, Trikala, Larissa and Fthiotida prefectures.

    A large number of golden and silver coins as well as priceless artifacts have been confiscated, dating from the 6th century BC to the Byzantine era.

    The ring, one of the biggest antiquities trafficking rings to be uncovered in Greece, was based in Halkidiki and had "representatives" in a total of 13 prefectures in Macedonia, Thessaly and central mainland (Sterea) Greece.

    A total of 45 suspected ring members have been arrested so far, and archaeological artifacts of inestimable value found in their possession have been confiscated, including approximately 10,000 ancient coins dating from the 6th century BC to the post-Byzantine period, most of them copper, as well as gold artifacts, jewelry, statuettes, Byzantine icons and a trove of other antiquities, together with catalogues of antiquities, metal detectors and also firearms.

    Among the objects of exceptional importance and singled out by authorities are two Byzantine-era diptych icons depicting saints, while exceptionally rare is a silver tetradrachm (four-drachma coin) of the Hellenistic Period bearing the figure of Zeus or Heracles.amna

    The 66-year-old alleged mastermind of the ring is a retired customs broker from Gerakarou, Thessaloniki. The artifacts were brought to the 66-year-old who assessed their value and channeled them to private collectors or auction houses in the US, Britain, Switzerland, Germany and Bulgaria.

    Most of the ring members were "seekers", who carried out illegal excavations in rural areas in Macedonia and Thessaly in search of ancient objects, which they turned over to the leader. Among the "seekers" were pensioners, private and municipal employees, and freelance professionals.

    According to police, the seized artifacts include some 10,000 coins

    [02] Vessel with oil sinks- Captain missing

    AMNA--The supplier vessel AA1 sank in the sea region of Elefsina on Monday morning and according to initial reports the 48-year-old Greek captain is missing.

    The vessel, carrying an 11-member crew, was loaded with 1.8 tons of crude oil and 253 tons of oil. amna

    The crew is safe and well, however some of them were sent to hospital for precautionary reasons.

    A rescue team is at the site of the incident to locate the missing captain.

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