Vatican attends CEPOL Trafficking in Stolen Artwork course

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29 June 2010

‘Trafficking in stolen artwork’ was the subject of a recent CEPOL course which was held in Rome, Italy on 15-18 June 2010. The course has developed over the years and attracted 26 participants from 13 Member States and two CEPOL Associated countries, as well as a participant from the Vatican’s Police Force ‘Corps of Gendarmeria’ for the first time ever.

The aim of the course was to provide knowledge about the phenomenon of national and international trafficking in stolen artwork and its major connections.

The course gave participants the opportunity to assess the potential threat from stolen artwork trafficking with a view to exploring prevention strategies and to investigate the phenomenon of fakes within the wider context of stolen artwork trafficking.

The CEPOL course was organised by the Italian Interagency College of Advanced Studies for Law Enforcement Officials in conjunction with the Department of Carabinieri for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, and with support from Cyprus and Portugal.

Brigadier General Nino Giuseppe Boccia, Deputy Director of the College, opened the course and Salvatore Siena, Head of the Italian CEPOL Unit and course manager, presented the organisation and aims of CEPOL.

Lieutenant Colonel Alberto Deregibus, course coordinator, Department of Carabinieri for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, introduced the structure and the objectives of the course. Stephane Thefo, Works of Art Unit of Interpol Secretariat, presented the current Interpol activities in the field of stolen artwork trafficking.

During the course, the participants were given the opportunity to visit the operational facilities of the Department of Carabinieri for the Protection of Cultural Heritage.

Delfim Torres, Portugal, discussed theft, forgery and trafficking in cultural property - the Portuguese reality; while Professor Stefano Manacorda, IISPAC, discussed international legal tools to protect cultural heritage. Mons. José Del Rio, Under Secretary of the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church, presented protection of the cultural heritage of the Catholic Church.

Participants visited two archeological sites on Appia Antica area: the tomb of Cecilia Metella and the Villa dei Quintili.

Giovanni Nistri, Brigadier General, Commander of the Department of Carabinieri for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, discussed trans-national crime; Paolo Giorgio Ferri, Italian Prosecutor, discussed the methods to ask for International Rogatory Letters and, together with the Bulgarian Prosecutor Nikolay Solarov, moderated a case study on international cooperation. Participants also visited the Vatican Museums.

On the last day of the course, Michalis Gavrielides discussed destruction of Cyprus cultural heritage: the Dikmen Case. In addition the results of the workshops were discussed in the plenary session, moderated by Mr Deregibus.

Fabio Vagnoni, Corps of Gendarmeria, said: “It was an honour for me to have participated in this extremely interesting course. The organisation was perfect”.

Tuva Brørby, a Police Superintendent who works within the National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic an Environmental Crime in Norway, said: “Thank you again for a great course! I plan to write an article that will be published in miljokrim.no, a police magazine in Norway.”

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