(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
On Friday, Swiss authorities said that they confiscated cultural relics stolen from Libya, Syria and Yemen that were being kept in the Geneva Free Ports.
The Geneva Free Ports are storage warehouses that are duty-free and provide high security for anyone no questions asked. The artifacts were taken to Qatar before they reached Switzerland, said a statement released by Geneva’s public prosecutor.
The historical artifacts found by the Swiss were from the third and fourth centuries. One of the artifacts was the head of Aphrodite, which came from Libya and characterised as “the Hellenisation of north Africa,” said the statement.
The artifacts were stashed in the Geneva Free Ports around 2009 and 2010, however a customs check in 2013 raised speculations April 2013 that the artifacts were stolen, said the prosecutor. It is not clear when the smugglers took the relics from their original locations.
According to the UN’s Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, three of the stolen artifacts originated from Palmyra, Syria, from a world heritage site which was destroyed by ISIS.
Five of the artifacts came from Yemen, which last year had two of its historical cities placed on the UN’s list of endangered World Heritage sites.
According to UNESCO, the Yemeni city Sanaa”sustained serious damage due to armed conflict” from clashes between Iran-backed militia groups and Saudi-backed forces.
Until the artifacts are returned to the countries they originated from they will be kept at the Geneva Museum of Art and History and put up for public display.