Belgians detained in Turkey for 'smuggling': Historical value of stones confirmed

Belgians detained in Turkey for 'smuggling': Historical value of stones confirmed

A Belgian couple returning from a holiday in Turkey was detained last week after customs officials found three stones in their suitcase. A report by local experts now shows that the stones do have a historical or archaeological value, though the couple said they had no idea.

The couple (Kim and Warre) found three stones during a day trip in Manavgat, a town east of Antalya. The stones were put in their suitcase to bring back to Belgium, about a week ago – but this is against the rules in Turkey. They were stopped at the airport and Kim was detained. Now, more than a week after the incident, the Belgian national is still not allowed to leave the country.

In the meantime, the Provincial Directorate of Culture and Tourism of Antalya has had the three stones from the Belgians' suitcase examined by experts from the Antalya Museum. Their report was made public a few days ago, Turkish media report.

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"The stone with two stylised rosettes on it was an architectural decoration piece" and "the two marble pieces were floor covering pieces," the experts concluded, meaning it was indeed forbidden, "due to their nature," to take them out of the country.

Turkey's law on the protection of cultural and natural resources is strict for those who try to smuggle objects with possible archaeological value out of the country. The Belgian Foreign Affairs Ministry warns on its website that it is strictly prohibited to "export antiquities, minerals or objects found on site (stones, for example), even if they do not show any cultural-historical value" from Turkey.

It now remains to be seen which sanction the Belgian woman risks. She previously explained that they often take stones from holiday destinations as a souvenir: "We often take them as decoration for my aquarium."

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