Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Iraq postpones trial in antiquities theft case

BAGHDAD ( Associated Press) — An Iraqi court on Sunday postponed the trial of two European tourists accused of stealing ancient relics, after lawyers argued more information is needed about the artifacts they had.

The defense of the German Volker Waldman filed a request in court saying that there is insufficient information about the value of the pieces. Waldman is charged along with Jim Fitton, a 66-year-old retired British geologist.

The Baghdad criminal court postponed the trial until June 6.

Furat Kubba, Waldman’s attorney, said he filed the motion in part to find out more about the pieces.

A government technical team found that the objects — 10 found with Fitton and two with Waldman — could be considered archaeological relics since they date back more than 200 years. The fragments, some of which are barely the size of a fingernail, were found in Eridu, an ancient Mesopotamian city in southern Iraq.

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Waldman’s defense maintains that the German tourist was carrying the pieces for Fitton but he was not the one who removed them from the place.

Both are charged with smuggling under the country’s laws on the protection of ancient relics, and could potentially be sentenced to death. However, authorities consider that unlikely.

Kubba said they will try to have separate trials for Waldman and Fitton. Both foreigners insist they were ignorant of Iraqi law and did not know there was a penalty for picking up items and leaving the country with them.

Fitton and Waldman were arrested on March 20 at the Baghdad airport when security discovered the items in their luggage.

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The two foreigners were part of an expedition through the archaeological sites of the country. His case has drawn international attention as Iraq tries to boost its tourism sector.

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Nation World News Desk
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