Trafficking in Stolen Artwork was the subject of the recent CEPOL course 27/2009. Attracting 25 participants from 13 Member States, the course took place in Nicosia, Cyprus on 9-13 March 2009.
Trafficking in Stolen Artwork is a form of Organised Crime which operates on a global level and concerns all European police organisations. Offenders are highly adaptive and are already exploiting new technologies such as the Internet to achieve their goals and increase their revenue from illegal activities. The crime often results in the loss of national and cultural heritage; be it in the form of historical sites with architectural value, or of creations with artistic value.
During the course, participants were introduced to CEPOL – European Police College by the Head of the Cyprus CEPOL team Georgia Pelagia.
Superindentent B’ Dr Panayiotis Nicolaides, Head of Cultural Heritage Office at Cyprus Police, presented the situation in Cyprus regarding trafficking in stolen artwork.
Fabrizio Rossi, Interpol General Secretariat, gave participants an overview of the role, activities and tools developed by Interpol General Secretariat in fighting the illicit traffic in artwork, cultural property and antiques. Participants were also introduced to the Interpol stolen works of art database.
Alberto Deregibus, Italy, presented the experiences of the Directorate for Cultural Heritage protection on the Carabinieri Corps in the monitoring of archaeological sites on land and sea and the fight against illegal trafficking of ancient coins.
The role of customs in the control of the fight against illegal trafficking of cultural goods and national treasures was presented by Eleftheria Georgiou and George Constantinou, both from the Department of Customs and Excise in Cyprus.
The looting and trafficking of Cypriot antiquities and the efforts made to repatriate them was presented by Dr. Maria Hadjicosti, Department of Antiquities, in Cyprus.
The Byzantine Museum of the Archbishop Makarios III foundation and the protection of the cultural heritage of Cyprus was presented by Dr. Ioannis Eliadis, Director of Byzantine Museum, Cyprus.
Professor Charalampos Chotzakoglou, from Kykkos Museum in Cyprus, gave a presentation concerning the churches in the North areas of Cyprus.
The phenomenon of illegally trafficking of stolen religious objects and actions to be taken was presented by Zoe Tzika fromGreece.
In his closing speech, the Assistant Chief (Administration) of the Cyprus Police Andreas Nicolaides said: “Over the last four days, it has become apparent that the participant’s knowledge on this issue has been enriched and their special abilities further developed, thus contributing to their efforts of combating this type of criminality. In addition, it was agreed that Member States should increase their co-operation, particularly in the area of exchange of information.”
The course was organised by the Cyprus Police Academy and was supported by Greece, Italy and Interpol.