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Cyprus-Switzerland Agreement on Antiquities Trafficking

switzerland-cyprus antiquities dealCyprus and Switzerland have signed an agreement to restrict the trafficking of antiquities and other cultural goods, said a department of antiquities spokesman.

The two countries will cooperate by exchanging information, experties and organise exhibitions, conferences and training seminars.

The agreement was signed by Michael Constantinides, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Communications and Works and Benno Widmer, Head of the Specialized Service of the Swiss Federal Office of Culture.

Cyprus is struggling to find priceless artefacts that were stolen from churches and ancient sites around the island. In a high profile case earlier this year, pop star Boy George returned a stolen icon of Jesus Christ to the Orthodox Church, saying he was happy the icon was going back to its rightful home.

But others are not so cooperative, and when stolen antiquities are found by authorities, bringing them back to the island becomes a quagmire of legal red tape as they become evidence in criminal cases. After Turkish art dealer Aydin Dikmen was caught with Cypriot antiquities in 1997, it took six years before a German court ordered the return of the treasures.

And last year, investigators arrested nine people, including a retired police officer, in the biggest-ever case of trafficking in stolen archaeological treasures in Cyprus. The antiquities were estimated to be worth 11.5 million euros, said authorities at the time.

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