Iraq blocks sale of Mesopotamian artifacts in German auction
Iraqi diplomats in Germany have stopped the sale of 28 Mesopotamian artifacts believed to have been smuggled from the country in the years since the 2003-U.S. invasion.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has asked the Iraqi embassy in Germany to appoint a lawyer and launch a lawsuit to have the artifacts returned to Iraq.
Under an Iraqi law issued in 2007, Iraqi envoys in foreign countries are required to report on the exhibition of Mesopotamian artifacts or their auctioning.
Information on the Iraqi items is passed to experts who determine whether they were part of tens of thousands of items that have been looted or illegally dug in the past few years.
The items whose sale has been blocked in Germany dated to the ancient civilizations that flourished in southern Iraq, particularly the Sumerians.
Iraqi scientists say Germany is not doing enough to have the smuggled items on its territory returned to the country.
But Iraqi envoys in Germany have already won a court case for the return of a priceless gold item of astounding beauty.
The gold piece which is more than 4500 years old is currently in the possession of Iraq Museum.
The court victory has encouraged Iraqi diplomats across Europe to resort to judicial procedures to crack down on Iraqi antiquity smugglers.