Four icons from the 16th century looted from a Greek Orthodox church in the Turkish occupied northern Cyprus have been handed over from the government of the Netherlands to the Cyprus ambassador in the Hague.
The icons of Saints Peter, John, Mark and Paul were returned by Dutch Director General of Culture and Media Marjan Hammersma to Cypriot Ambassador Kyriacos Kouros following a request submitted by the Cyprus authorities and based on the provisions of the 2007 Dutch Law on restitution of cultural goods originating from an occupied territory.
The Church of Cyprus had claimed the repatriation of the said icons from the church of Christ Antiphonitis in the occupied village of Kalograia.
A representative from the Committee for Monuments and Art of the Church of Cyprus and a conservator from the Cyprus Department of Antiquities were also present at the handover ceremony.
Several thousand icons, byzantine objects, religious art and antiquity were stolen by Turkish looters from churches and museums after 1974 and sold to collectors, with the Cyprus government and the Church of Cyprus interrupting their sale at many auctions.
In July, a Munich Court decided to return 173 stolen artefacts from the occupied areas which were found in the possession of Turkish art dealer Aydin Dikmen and recovered through a joint police sting operation in 1997.
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