German police return smuggled artifacts to Kosovo

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Associated Press

Posted on February 22, 2013 at 2:01 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 22 at 4:03 PM

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo's culture minister says seven smuggled artifacts dating as far back as 4,000 B.C. are being returned to the country some seven years after they were found during a police raid in Germany.

Memli Krasniqi said Friday the artifacts were found by German police in 2005 in a sports bag belonging to two Serbs during an unrelated criminal investigation. Among them are an ancient terracotta figurine and the head of a cat made of clay.

Authorities believe they were meant for sale to private collectors. It took experts years to authenticate them and confirm they belong to Kosovo.

Serbia relocated some 1,200 artifacts from Kosovo's main museum to Belgrade during NATO's 78-day bombing that eventually ended the Kosovo war in 1999. Their ownership is hotly debated.

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