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Macedonia court sentences 12 in antiquities theft

July 24, 2014

SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) — A Macedonian court has sentenced 12 people, including two senior heritage department officials, to prison terms of between 2 ½ and 7 ½ years for involvement in an antiquities smuggling gang.

The 12 were sentenced Thursday for criminal association, abuse of position, concealment and theft after a 10-month trial.

They were among 16 people arrested during nation-wide raids last year, in which police seized artifacts dating from as early as the 4th Century B.C., including pottery, a clay female figurine and 121 coins — one with the portrait of Alexander the Great. Fourteen church icons were also seized, although police did not say how old they were.

The remaining four were sentenced to probation for illegally excavating, trading and destroying valuable artifacts.

The defense said it will appeal all sentences.

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