Macedonia museum staff guilty of trafficking artefacts

AFP , Friday 20 Mar 2015

A former director of Macedonia's national museum and six other people have been found guilty of trafficking 162 ancient artefacts, a Macedonian court said Friday.

Pero Josifovski, who used to head the museum in the capital, Skopje, was jailed for seven years and eight months, while his accomplices -- five of whom were also museum staff -- received prison sentences ranging from one to seven years.

All seven accused were found guilty of stealing "cultural artefacts of great importance belonging to the state" and of "abuse of power", the court in Skopje said in a statement.

The stolen objects, which included 121 made of pure gold, date back to the classical era and stem from the famous archeological site of Isar Marvinci in Macedonia's southeast.

Macedonia's many archeological sites regularly face the threat of being plundered by thieves. The most affected sites are Isar Marvinci, Mariovo, Vrance and Cepigovo.

According to local media, around 20,000 religious and cultural artefacts -- some of which are worth hundreds of thousands of euros -- have been stolen in Macedonia over the last four years.

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