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Looted archaeological items restored to Rome

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Thirteen ancient artefacts including statuary and vases restored by the Boston Fine Arts Museum, some dating back to the fifth century BC, were returned Thursday to the city of Rome from which they were once looted.

They included a marble statue of Vibia Sabina, wife of the Roman Emperor Hadrian (76-138 AD).

Italy began negotiations several years ago with museums and galleries around the world to recover archeological finds previously smuggled out of the country and sold to museums and galleries.

Marion True, a former employee of the Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, went on trial in Rome last November charged with having knowingly purchased items looted in Italy.

Also last November, Italy was granted restitution of three items on display in the Getty museum. Negotiations continue over dozens of other artefacts.

Last February New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art returned several items to Rome, including a 2,500 year-old terracotta vase.

Under agreements reached, Italy will allow the museums concerned to display items on temporary loan in return for returning them definitively to Italian ownership.

Under an accord between the Italian culture ministry and Malcom Rogers, director of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Rome has agreed to lend a number of artefacts of major value to the US gallery.

"Today I wish to thank the intelligence, far-sightedness and great integrity that the Museum of Fine Arts has shown," said Culture Minister Francesco Rutelli, returning the objects to the city of Rome.

He said he hoped to establish similar such relations with other galleries and museums around the globe.



AFP 281805 GMT 09 06

COPYRIGHT 2006 Agence France-Presse. All rights reserved.

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