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U.S. transfers 30 looted antiquities back again to Cambodia

NY Cambodias ambassador to america said Monday that the transfer of 30 antiquities by U.S. police authorities to his country was a return of the souls of our culture.

Ambassador Keo Chhea spoke at a ceremony in which a 10th-century sculpture, Skanda on a Peacock, was among several artwork displayed as U.S. and Cambodian officials described the impact the return of 30 antiquities could have on the Southeast Asian nation.

Its such as a returning of the souls of our culture back again to our people, Chhea said. Were very grateful.

Chhea praised the cooperation between your U.S. and Cambodia make it possible for the return of the antiquities, but he also said these were battling a worldwide problem that continues.

He added that people have to commit also to continue our fight to avoid further looting and prevent the plundering of precious artwork by tools utilized by looters, which sometimes results in bits of sculptures being chopped off.

Some sculptures, including one from the 10th century depicting the Hindu elephant god Ganesha that weighs a lot more than 3 tons, were overweight to be taken to the ceremony, in accordance with U.S. Attorney Damian Williams.

The sculptures were looted throughout a any period of time of civil war and instability in Cambodia, that was ruled by the brutal Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s.

Williams said organized looting networks including looters associated with the Khmer Rouge sent the statues to Douglas Latchford, a well-known antiquities dealer, who then sold them to Western dealers, collectors and institutions.

Latchford died before he could possibly be extradited to america to handle charges of wire fraud conspiracy along with other crimes in Manhattan federal court, the prosecutor noted. The indictment eventually was dismissed because of his death.

Williams said a few of the sandstone and bronze sculptures and artifacts received up by their owners when U.S. authorities told them these were stolen. Others were claimed through court actions. They ranged from the Bronze Age to the 12th century.

We commend individuals and institutions who made a decision to do the proper thing, and after studying the foundation of the antiquities within their possession, made a decision to voluntarily return those pieces with their homeland, Williams said. You want to encourage anyone on the market, who believes they have illegally obtained Cambodian or other antiquities within their possession, ahead forward.

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