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April 19, 2024
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Stolen Prehistoric Golden Bracelets Brought Back to Romania by Prosecutors

On Tuesday, February 20, 2024, Romanian prosecutors and police officers brought back to the country three prehistoric gold bracelets (Bronze Age and early Hallstatt period, middle-end of the 2nd millennium BC) originating from archaeological sites on the territory of Romania.

The bracelets were taken from the MAS Museum in Antwerp, Belgium.

The three cultural assets of great value, protected by law, were stolen by unknown perpetrators and subsequently alienated. Two bracelets were identified when offered for sale at a public auction in the Principality of Monaco. The third bracelet was identified during the home search of the residence in Belgium of the person who submitted the two bracelets to the auction house in Monte Carlo with a view to public sale, the Romanian Public Ministry reports.

On October 27, 2020, the Belgian judicial authorities signalled the appearance of the two bracelets in an auction catalogue in Monte Carlo. On November 11, 2020, the criminal investigation officers in Romania notified ex officio regarding the commission of the crime of qualified theft.

A criminal investigation was started, and later, the criminal investigation was extended to the crime of carrying out illegal export operations.

The administered evidence showed that the three bracelets come from archaeological sites in northwestern Romania. Obtaining an export certificate, a document that does not exist, was necessary for their export.

To make it possible to return the bracelets to Romania, it was necessary for the Flemish Regional Ministry – the Department of Culture to initiate a declassification procedure (the bracelets being protected by Flemish law as precious artifacts, being entered on a list of heritage assets).

The action to return the bracelets was made possible by excellent judicial cooperation with the investigating judge from the Court of First Instance of Veurne – Belgium and benefited from the support of the Flemish Regional Ministry – Department for Culture, the Romanian Embassy in Brussels and the national member at Eurojust.

The seizure was instituted on these assets, and they will be handed over to the custody of the National History Museum of Romania until the case is finally resolved, and they will be subjected to multidisciplinary expertise (physicochemical, museography, etc.).

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