Alleged Italian Temple Thief Arrested in Bali
Made Arya Kencana | September 07, 2010
Bali. Police in Bali have arrested an Italian national on suspicion of looting local treasures.
Badung Police chief detective Adjutant Comr. Soma Adnyana told the Jakarta Globe on Tuesday that they had found 110 sacred Hindu objects, known as pratima, in the residence of Roberto Gamba, 50, on Jalan Bumbuk, Kerobokan on Thursday.
Gamba has lived in Bali for more than 10 years and is a known collector, Adnyana said.
Another 24 pratima were recovered from a Denpasar warehouse rented by Gamba on Monday night, he said.
A second warehouse in Seminyak is yet to be searched.
Adnyana said they had recovered sacks of ancient Balinese coins, antique kris (ceremonial daggers) and gold statues.
The Italian reportedly told police that he had been collecting the objects from locals and from Jakarta since 2006 and denied suggestions that he knew the items were sacred and looted from temples.
Police, however, are not amused.
“He bought the pratima cheaply, for between Rp 500,000 [$56] and Rp 1 million,” Adnyana said. “The evidence strongly suggests that he is a dealer who buys stolen objects.”
He said the recovered items could be worth at least Rp 2 billion ($222,000).
Police are also seek a French national who allegedly works as Gamba’s accomplice.