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London court decision on Jiroft artifacts violates Vienna Convention: lawyer

TEHRAN, April 7 (Mehr News Agency) -- A member of Iran's Attorneys Center for the Defense of Human Rights said that London's High Court decision in March that Iran's Jiroft artifacts must be auctioned violates the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.

"The court has not complied with the requisites of this convention which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1969. Article 27 declares that no state can invoke its internal law as justification for failure to observe a treaty," Mohammad-Ali Dadkhah told the Persian service of CHN on Saturday.

"The London court is obliged to observe the convention, and consequently the artifacts should be returned to Iran," he added.

Iran had sued the Barakat Gallery, which specializes in antiques, and has offices in Mayfair, central London and Beverly Hills, in an attempt to recover a collection of 5,000-year-old artifacts smuggled from the ancient site of Jiroft, which is situated in the Halil River Valley area of southeastern Iran.

Iran expected the High Court to order the return of the collection which consists of two jars, five cups, six vases, a bowl, a vessel, and three weights.

The court said Iran had failed to prove its legal ownership of these items, but gave permission for the ruling to be challenged at the appeal court.

Jeremy Scott, a lawyer acting on behalf of the Iranian government, said the ruling was a setback for those trying to stop looters. "It will be of great concern to many countries throughout the world as it places their archaeological heritage at further risk."

In March 2005, some 118 ancient artifacts, which had been smuggled to Britain from Jiroft, were returned to Iran. The items had been confiscated by customs officials at London's Heathrow Airport in summer 2004.

Jiroft came into the spotlight nearly five years ago when reports surfaced that local people had begun extensive illegal excavations and were plundering priceless historical items.

Five excavation seasons have been conducted at the Jiroft site under the supervision of Professor Yusef Majidzadeh, leading to the discovery of a ziggurat made of more than four million mud bricks dating back to about 2200 BC.

After numerous unique discoveries in the region, Majidzadeh declared Jiroft to be a cradle of art.

... Payvand News - 4/7/07 ... --

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