Dutch court needs more time to rule on Crimean treasures

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) – An appeal court in Amsterdam said yesterday it needs more time to rule on the ownership of a valuable trove of historical artefacts loaned to a Dutch museum by four museums in Crimea shortly before the region’s annexation by Russia in 2014.

The Amsterdam Court of Appeal said in an interim ruling that it needs “greater clarity” on the competing claims by Ukraine and the museums in Crimea. The court said it expects to deliver a final judgment in six to nine months.

Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea left the approximately 300 artefacts, including bronze swords, golden helmets and precious, gems in a legal limbo, as both Ukraine and the Crimean museums now controlled by Russia have demanded their return by Amsterdam’s Allard Pierson Museum.

“It is now a question of deciding who has the strongest rights; either the Crimean museums claiming a right of operational management under Ukrainian law, or the Ukrainian State claiming ownership of the Crimean treasures,” the court said.

The Dutch museum had borrowed the artefacts for an exhibition that opened a month before the annexation. It has kept them in storage pending resolution of the cultural tug-of-war and declined comment on the legal proceedings.

A file photo shows a Scythian gold helmet from the fourth century BC on display as part of the exhibit called The Crimea – Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea, at Allard Pierson historical museum in Amsterdam. – AP