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Iran Resubmits Complaint against Barakat Gallery to London Court

Following the refusal of Barakat Gallery to return Jiroft's ancient artifacts to their homeland, Iran took the case to London's court for the second time.

Tehran, 12 June 2006 (CHN) -- Board members of Barakat Gallery in London who had bought Jiroft's antiques from private collection owners rejected Iran's 150,000 pound proposal as a compensation for the expenses of keeping these relics which were looted from Jiroft in return for the artifacts currently in the possession of the Gallery. Therefore, Iran has once again taken the case to London's court for a legal decision.

It was the second time that Iran sued the Barakat Gallery. Last time, once Iranian cultural heritage authorities found out that Jiroft's stolen relics were being auctioned by this gallery, they immediately took action and asked the London Court to stop the selling of these invaluable relics. The court ordered the gallery to stop selling them and asked it to come to an agreement with Iran about them. However, although the gallery took these artifacts out of its auction, it has refused to give them back to Iran despite Iran's proposal to give 150,000 British pounds as compensation.

"After the initial studies, London's Court asked both parties to reach to a mutual agreement and find a solution to this problem," said Omid Ghanami, executive director of the judicial department of Iran's Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (ICHTO).

According to Omid Ghanami, the present owners of these relics have suggested to pay for Jiroft's artifacts in order to keep and later sell them in their gallery, it is by no means reasonable that Iran sell its historical heritage, whatever the price may be.

"Based on international conventions, the present owners may receive the expenses for keeping these objects for the time they were in their possession. Therefore, ICHTO has suggested paying some 100-150 thousand pounds for these years which has not been accepted by the owners; therefore, the case was taken to the London's Court again. Iran has a lawyer in London who is following the case closely. However, we are not sure how long the process will take," added Ghanami.

Prior to this, Iran had three different files in London courts related to the smuggling of Jiroft's historical relics across the borders; however, following the efforts made by ICHTO, the two other courts issued their votes in favor of Iran and the objects were returned to their home country last March. So the only file still open is the one about selling of these relics in the Barakat Gallery.

The case was first taken to the court by Iran with the help of the International Law Department of Paris. Iran and France worked closely to prepare a file and submit it to London's court to prove Iran's claim for the ownership of these relics. These ancient artifacts had been plundered from Halil Rud historical site near the city of Jiroft in the Iranian province of Kerman. The smugglers then illegally crossed the borders of the country with these valuable objects, considered part of the Persian heritage, and sold them abroad. The Barakat Gallery collected a large number of them and put them on auction.

Halil Rud historical site was one of the first places where civilization and urbanization were established. A large number of stone, clay, and architectural remains from the third millennium BC were discovered during archeological excavations in the site. However, after such a rich civilization was discovered in Halil Rud region, lack of appropriate protection and management in this historical site and lack of public knowledge about how to preserve their cultural heritage, and the smugglers who took advantage of this situation and sold a large amount of these historical relics illegally all led to such a dilemma we are facing today.

Even after these objects were taken out of Iran, plundering of the site did not stop. A few months ago, Iran's police department succeeded in seizing more than 2000 historical relics and arrested a large number of antique smugglers before they had the chance to leave the country.

Illegal excavations of the smugglers in this historical site resulted in the loss of some invaluable evidence since it is evident that they would not take precautious measures in taking out these objects and thus would harm the surrounding land and anything buried within the area. These historical treasures were then sold to museums and private collections outside the country. Now the current owners of these historical relics deny Iran's right over these historical relics and refuse to redeem them. Therefore, Iran's government has to work hard on the case to return these historical relics back to the country and ask an international court to be set up to identify these relics and prove that they belong to this land.

... Payvand News - 6/14/06 ... --

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