Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Canada: 18 000 Stolen Coins Did Not Make it onto the North American Market as Planned

This Friday evening at a ceremony at the Canadian Museum of Civilization the Ministry of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages returned the largest ever Canadian seizure of stolen cultural property to the Republic of Bulgaria. Going back were 21,000 coins, pieces of jewellery, and other objects that were illegally exported to Canada and seized by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Vezhdi Rashidov, Minister of Culture of the Republic of Bulgaria, was present to accept the artefacts from the Government of Canada. Madame Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO, came over for the event. The usual speeches were made.
"The RCMP is pleased with this successful outcome. Our team in Montréal has worked long hours to investigate, locate, and retrieve these Bulgarian artifacts," said Bob Paulson, RCMP Deputy Commissioner.

In 2007, Canada Border Services Agency officials detained two imports of cultural property sent by mail from Bulgaria. These imports were referred to Canadian Heritage for further assessment, and the RCMP was asked to investigate. As a result of its investigation, the RCMP seized about 21,000 ancient coins, pieces of jewellery, and other objects in November 2008. In January 2011, the importer formally abandoned the cultural property, clearing the way for the Court ofQuebec to rule under the Criminal Code for the return of the seized antiquities to the Republic of Bulgaria. These objects, many of which were illegally excavated, cover more than 2600 years of the history of Bulgaria. This collection includes more than 18,000 coins, as well as a number of artifacts including bronze eagles, rings, pendants, belt buckles, arrows and spearheads, and bone sewing needles. They represent a mix of Hellenistic, Roman, Macedonian, Byzantine, Bulgarian, and Ottoman cultural heritage.

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