Foreigner among suspects arrested by Bulgaria over trafficking archaeological artefacts

A 51-year-old foreigner with permanent residence in Bulgaria is among those set to face criminal charges in connection with illegal possession and trafficking in antiquities.

An Interior Ministry statement on March 24 said that an investigation had been initiated after a tip-off about trafficking in and possession of items of cultural and historical value.

Police searched private homes in the towns of Shoumen, Veliki Preslav and Novi Pazar.

At the home of a 56-year-old man in Shoumen, police found 19 Roman-era marble and stone items as well as parts of statues.

In Novi Pazar, police found 9000 ancient coins and dies for producing fake coins at the home of a 52-year-old man, while ancient metal items and about 80 ancient coins were found during a search of a home of a 32-year-old in the village of Ivanovo.

Numerous antique coins and the head of a statue were found at the Shoumen home of a foreigner resident in the country. The Interior Ministry statement did not identify the foreigner’s nationality.

The statement said that three men had been arrested. Investigators believed that the items were intended for sale in various countries in the European Union, the ministry said.

Several experts had been appointed to examine the artefacts to determine which of them was genuine, and after that the final charges would be formulated.

However, Shoumen district prosecutor Margarita Georgieva said that there were soil traces and limestone deposits on the marble slabs found, which suggested that most were original. Initial findings were that they were from the Roman Empire, about the first to second centuries CE.



The Sofia Globe staff

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