| 3 December 2004
Tourists jailed for stealing ancient objects
Five German tourists who went missing in the Sahara desert have been jailed by an Algerian court for stealing protected ancient archaeological artifacts from Tissili National Park, including a number of Neolithic implements. They were sentenced to three months in prison and fined nearly $500,000.
The group had managed to give their guide the slip but were later discovered with a stash of artefacts. No details were given of what was stolen from the Tassili National Park - a vast world heritage site near the Libyan and Niger borders. The disappearance of the group of tourists, ranging in age from 32 to 53, sparked a massive manhunt, because they were in a part of Algeria where 32 Europeans were kidnapped by Islamic militants last year. The three men and two women were found camping in the desert about 300km (180 miles) from the border with Niger with 130 archaeological artefacts in their vehicles.
The Tassili National Park features on Unesco's World Heritage List. Apart from outstanding geological formations, it has what is described as one of the most important groupings of prehistoric cave art in the world - thousands of drawings and engravings depicting animal and human life in the region - and is rich in Neolithic artifacts.
Sources: BBC News (21 and 30 November 2004), The New York Times (23 November 2004)
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