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26 April 2008
Ancient treasures returned to Burkina Faso

France has returned to Burkina Faso a haul of stolen archaeological treasures discovered in a northern French port, the Burkinabe culture minister announced. Filippe Sawadogo said 262 items of 'national archaeological and cultural significance' to the landlocked west African nation were returned via the French embassy in Ouagadougou. He praised the 'perspicacity' of French customs officers at the French city of Rouen, on the River Seine, for the seizure in December 2007 of ancient ceramic, stone and bronze materials dating back to 1,300 BCE. Sawadogo said they had been stolen by a French couple, adding that France returning the pieces to Burkina Faso's national museum was "a sign of the good cooperation which should exist between our countries".
     The trafficking of cultural heritage is not new, with Burkinabe authorities seizing 200 statuettes in September 2004 at Ouagadougou airport as they were about to be transported illegally to Europe.
French customs also intercepted 669 such items from Mali at Paris' main Charles de Gaulle airport in 2007 along with further treasures from Niger, cultural commissioner Jean Claude Dioma said.

Source: AFP, Yahoo! News (18 April 2008)

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