Looted Palmyra relics seized by Swiss authorities at Geneva ports
Confiscated objects date from the third and fourth centuries and include a head of Aphrodite and two funereal bas-reliefs
Swiss authorities have seized cultural relics looted from Syrias ancient city of Palmyra, as well as from Libya and Yemen, which were being stored in Genevas free ports.
The free ports provide highly secured warehouses where basically anything can be kept tax-free with few questions asked.
The confiscated objects, from the third and fourth centuries, include a head of Aphrodite and two funereal bas-reliefs.
Most of the items reached Switzerland via Qatar and were taken by looters, Genevas public prosecutor said in a statement.
They were deposited at the free ports in 2009 and 2010 and the alarm was first raised in April 2013 during a customs inspection, prosecutors added. It was not immediately clear when they were seized.
The customs office contacted the cultural authorities in Bern whose expert confirmed the artefacts were genuine, prompting the start of criminal proceedings in February.
Three of the pieces came from Palmyra, a Unesco world heritage site devastated by Islamic State group jihadists who seized it in May 2015. The Islamists sent shock waves around the world as they systematically destroyed the central citys monuments.
Five of the confiscated objects were from Yemen.