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News 15 Jul 13

Top Macedonian Archaeologist Held Over Artefacts Smuggling

Macedonia’s chief excavator, archaeologist Pasko Kuzman, has been arrested in connection with an investigation into the smuggling of antiquities.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic, Sase Dimovski
BIRN
Skopje
Pasko Kuzman

Police arrested the head of Macedonia’s Cultural Heritage Protection Office on Monday on misuse of office charges.

According to what little information has emerged from the court so far, Kuzman is being questioned for his alleged involvement in an ongoing investigation into the smuggling of valuable icons and archaeological artefacts.

Several archaeologists, employees of the culture ministry and illegal excavators have already been charged with involvement in the case.

The archaeologists are accused of helping the illegal excavators to determine the price of their artefacts and to find buyers abroad.

Around midday on Monday, Kuzman was brought in handcuffs to the investigative judge at Skopje criminal court for questioning. The judge must decide whether to keep him in detention.

As head of the Cultural Heritage Protection Office, over the past few years Kuzman oversaw the main archaeological digs across the country.

Often seen in the company of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, Kuzman’s name was linked to the grand government-funded revamp of the Macedonian capital dubbed ‘Skopje 2014’.

However, in an interview for Balkan Insight he claimed that the prime minister himself was the mastermind behind the project.

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