‘No newspaper published this’: organised antiquities crime in Cyprus

Solicitor Christiana O’Connell-Schizas has reported on an Antiquities Bust in Aphrodite’s City (Pafos in Cyprus).

O’Connell-Schizas has been informed by someone within the Department of Antiquities (in the Greek Cypriot-controlled south) that ‘finding looted antiquities in Cypriot houses, particularly in more remote areas of the island, is very common’. That’s not all.

She has been unable to get official information on this case but (again, according to her anonymous source in the antiquities department), when Greek Cypriot police arrested people for shootings (‘an attempt to settle a score between rival gangs’), they found ‘illicitly excavated antiquities‘, but ‘[n]o newspaper published this’.

As I discuss in a forthcoming book chapter (which I will detail soon),

When Kofinou[/Köfünye] Mosque was burned, Greek Cypriot police released the information, then asked journalists not to report it, and all but one media organisation duly suppressed the news. Challenged on the censorship, raising more questions than they answered, the police explained that they only ‘realised the “arson attack on mosque” story would be harmful’ to the ‘national interest’ after they had released it (Patroclos, 2010)…. Thus, it is likely that other acts of violence have gone unreported.

In light of public interest in cultural heritage in Cyprus (and general interest in crime stories), it seems unlikely that no newspaper considered the information to be newsworthy. Was this, too, officially withheld?

This sort of data could reveal the size and structure of the problem, and could inform the struggle against organised crime and political violence. In addition to O’Connell-Schizas’s key questions, whether they have suppressed details of this particular case or not, how do the police define the “national interest”? How much information is being suppressed “in the national interest”? What do the authorities know that the communities do not?

Notes

Patroclos. 2010: “Tales from the coffeeshop: The roads less travelled”. The Cyprus Mail, 28th February.

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2 Comments to “‘No newspaper published this’: organised antiquities crime in Cyprus”

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