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France Returns Stolen Sculptures

December 2, 1999

ROME (AP) _ France returned a treasure trove of stolen artifacts to Italy on Thursday, ending their years of exile in a storeroom of the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Italian police and Culture Ministry officials displayed the 267 brightly painted vases, amphora, platters and small terra cotta statues dating from the fourth century B.C.

French customs officials first confiscated the relics from an Italian citizen at a border crossing between Luxembourg and France in 1981.

The artifacts had been stolen from ancient ruins in the southern region of Puglia before being smuggled to Luxembourg, the Culture Ministry said.

Italian police and Interpol tracked down the treasure to the Louvre Museum in 1994. Years of wrangling followed, ending when France agreed to return the items to Italy.

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