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Greek government to continue legal fight for Getty artifacts

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Athens (dpa) - In an effort to secure the return of four allegedly stolen Greek artifacts, the government said Thursday that it will not stop legal proceedings against the Getty Museum in Los Angeles despite promises by the musuem staff that they will examine the issue.

The Los Angeles Times reported last month that Greek authorities were seeking the return of a gold funerary wreath, an inscribed tombstone, a marble torso of a young woman and a archaic votive relief, all dating from the fourth century BC.

Officials from the Greek Ministry of Culture say they decided to launch the legal process because they were tired of waiting for the Getty to respond to their written requests for the items.

Greece first asked for the items in 1996 and most recently sent a follow-up letter in May. But the officials say their requests "repeatedly remained unanswered."

Last week, Greek Deputy Minister Petros Tatoulis said the government would seek assistance from Italian prosecutors, who are currently pressing a criminal case against former Getty antiquities curator Marion True for allegedly conspiring to traffic in looted antiquities.

Italian investigators have managed to secure the return of 42 objects from the Getty and have alleged that seven more objects at the museum were illegally excavated and exported after a 1939 law prohibited the unauthorised removal of antiquities from the country.

The musuem's new curator, Michael Brand recently promised Greek authorities that he would personally look into the issue when he takes up his post in the new year.

Reports said that Greece has presented archeological evidence proving the Greek origin of the objects the Getty purchased in 1993.

Copyright 2005 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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