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Grave concern for stolen religious treasures
GRAVE concern for the future of religious treasures seized by the Turks and held at a police station in Munich, Germany, since 1997 has been expressed by the founder of Walk of Truth, Tasoula Hadjitofi.
Her comments come after the German newspaper Abendzeitung Munich reported in December that Turkish antiquities official Aydin Dikmen has not only claimed the antiquities as part of his wife’s dowry but has asked for financial compensation from the Church in the event they are returned.
Hadjitofi said if this is true, the work by all those seeking the return of the items over the years must be taken into account and an investigation should be started to show how the case reached this point.
She also raised alarm bells over the condition the items are now in, having lain in the Bavarian police station for 15 years.
The treasures were found in Dikmen’s Munich apartment after coordinated actions of the Bavarian police and Hadjitofi, who at that time was serving as a representative of the Church for Cultural Heritage and Consul of Cyprus in The Hague.
At the same time, in a letter to Walk of Truth the mayor of Kyrenia Glafcos Kariolou calls for full details and information on the fate of religious images from Kyrenia that are now in the hands of the Bavarian police. The mayor says a clear assessment of the situation both in Munich and other cases of stolen treasures following the 1974 invasion needs to be made so the municpality can draw up a programme to secure their return.
Particularly serious concern on the subject was expressed by Kyrenia Bishop Chrysostomos during a recent visit to Holland where he begged to be updated regularly by the Walk of Truth about developments in court cases concerning treasures stolen from Kyrenia.
Hadjitofi has asked the Law Office of Michalakis Kyprianou to prepare a legal report that shows the state of affairs with specific recommendations for future steps that need to be made for the safe repatriation the treasures of Kyrenia found in Dikmen’s apartment.
Walk of Truth is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation based in The Hague, The Netherlands. It was established to raise awareness of the value of cultural heritage in all its forms. It is particularly involved in tracing Cyprus artifacts that disappeared after the 1974 invasion.