Saturday, 5 November 2011

Three years in jail for trying to smuggle ancient piece of jewelry out of Ukraine

Simferopol, Nov. 5 - A man has been sentenced to three years of jail for trying to smuggle a 2,600-year-old pure-gold neck ring out of Ukraine, the country's Security Service (SBU) said.

The torc - neck ring - weighs nearly 1 kilogram, the SBU said in a statement.

"This piece of jewelry is unique, it is historic and is valuable as a work of art and an object of cultural studies; it is not permitted to be sold, and least of all to be taken out of our country. The art collector from Kerch who tried to take the torc from Ukraine to the Russian Federation was well aware of this," the service said.

The SBU had long kept the man, who lives in Kerch, a city in the Crimea autonomous region, under surveillance, and finally organized an operation to prevent him from taking the torc across the border.

"The smuggler was detained red-handed when he was crossing the frontier. The torc was found inside the bottom of a travel bag. It was carefully packed and hidden under various ordinary belongings," the SBU said.

The Kerch city court sentenced the man to three years' imprisonment with the torc being confiscated. The ring would soon be included in the collection of one of the country's museums, the SBU said.

It said experts believed the torc was about 2,600 years old, dated back to the Scythian-Sarmatian period and was made in the days of the Borporan Kingdom.

The torc "is adorned with lions' heads and contains nothing but pure gold," the SBU said. "Only eminent people vested with authority could have worn such adornments in ancient times. The item is in an excellent state and is better preserved than all other similar historic rarities in Ukraine that are known."

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