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Former Getty Museum curator on trial in Italy

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Rome (dpa) - Marion True, a former curator at the Los Angeles J. Paul Getty Museum, appeared in a Rome court Wednesday to face charges of receiving stolen artefacts looted in Italy.

Also standing trial is Paris-based art dealer Emanuel Robert Hecht.

The defendants are accused of buying and trading in over 40 classical art works, worth millions of dollars, taken from illegal digs in southern Italy. The artefacts include valuable Roman, Greek and Etruscan objects.

The case began in 1995, when nearly 2,000 archaeological inds from illegal digs and 400 photos of vases, amphoras and sculptures were seized in Geneva.

As a sign of "good will", the Californian museum has been handing over to the Italian government a number of archaeological finds. These include a Kylix (bowl) by the Greek vase craftsman Euphronius dating back to the fifth century BC and, most recently, a bronze Etruscan candelabra.

The defendants deny the charges and Getty Museum officials are confident of an acquittal.

Should Ms True be convicted, however, it would be the first time that a famous American museum will have been found guilty of dealing in stolen goods.

Such a verdict would likely lead to a whole series of claims for restitution targeting a number of United States museums, including New York's Metropolitan.

Wednesday's hearing, the second since the trial's opening in July, centred on procedural issues and was adjourned to December 5.

The trial is expected to come to a close in June of next year.

Copyright 2005 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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