NICOSIA (Greek Reporter)—The Church of Cyprus has announced that thirty four treasures that were stolen from the island’s Turkish-occupied areas are expected to return on Friday afternoon to Cyprus.
The treasures will return to Cyprus following a decision by the Munich Court of Appeals on March 16, in the case of Turkish art smuggler Aydin Dikmen.
Among the artifacts, twenty four are Byzantine relics and some prehistoric antiquities coming mostly from the collection of Chr. Chatziprodromou, from Ayios Epiktitos Church. Among the Byzantine relics are three pairs of bema doors (Monastery of Antiphonitis Christ, Virgin Mary Monastery in Kantara), wall paintings from the Monastery of Antiphonitis Christ, the church of Agia Solomoni in Coma tou Yialou and the Monastery of Panagia Apsinthiotissa in Sychari. The relics include a hand written manuscript of 17th century (omilario) from the Monastery of the Panagia Trooditissa, and the hand written gospel of the Armenian community of Cyprus stolen during the Turkish mutiny in 1963.
More than 500 churches situated in the areas under Turkish occupation since 1974 have been destroyed, plundered and looted, or turned into stables, warehouses, restaurants and hotels. The Cyprus government and the church have repeatedly protested to the United Nations, the World Council of Churches and many other international and religious organizations.