France protests Indonesia treasures arrest

10th March 2006, Comments 0 comments

JAKARTA, March 10, 2006 (AFP) - The French embassy has sent a note of protest to the Indonesian government over the arrest of a Frenchman accused of stealing historical treasures worth millions of dollars.

JAKARTA, March 10, 2006 (AFP) - The French embassy has sent a note of protest to the Indonesian government over the arrest of a Frenchman accused of stealing historical treasures worth millions of dollars.

A French embassy official who declined to be identified said the arrest of Jean-Paul Blancan was "arbitrary" and added that the diver had "a work permit from local authorities" to recover the treasures from the sea.

Indonesian police said Thursday they had arrested Blancan and his German co-worker Fred Dobberphul and accused them of removing antiquities from the country's seas without a permit.

They could face between five and 10 years in prison if found guilty of violating a 1993 law on the protection of such treasures, he said. The antiquities were recovered from a sunken ship in the sea off Java.

They include thousands of ceramics and pieces of glassware dating back centuries.

Police in January seized seven containers of the treasures kept at a warehouse near Jakarta. The operation to extract them began in 2004 and involved a team of divers from Australia, Britain, France and Belgium.

They recovered artefacts from China's Five Dynasties period from 907 to 960 AD and from ancient Egypt, causing a stir among archaeologists who said the cargo shed new light on ancient shipping routes.

The team has insisted their operation was legal -- they say they sent DVDs of the treasure images weekly to Indonesian authorities and openly discussed their finds with the media.

They believed the treasures might be bought by a foreign museum or at auction and have said Indonesia would receive half the proceeds.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article