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Top Valais cop stays despite Turkish rock theft

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Malcolm Curtis - [email protected]
Top Valais cop stays despite Turkish rock theft
Christian Varone: returning as chief constable. Photo: RTS

The chief of the Valais cantonal police force will remain on the job despite a conviction for attempting to steal a cultural artefact from Turkey.

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The cantonal government issued a statement on Wednesday stating that Christian Varone will resume his duties on April 1st, following a leave of absence begun in November.

A Turkish court last week handed Varone, 49, a suspended jail sentence of one year and 15 days, in addition to a fine equivalent to 260 francs ($272), for removing a marble fragment dating from Roman times.

The rock was found in Varone’s luggage as he was leaving Turkey following a holiday in July 2012.

He was arrested and spent several days in detention before being released and allowed to return to Switzerland.

In a brief statement, Valais’s five-person cabinet acknowledged Varone’s “determination” to continue as police chief and accepted his written arguments in defence of his position.

The ATS news agency reported that Varone’s suspended sentence does not affect his criminal record in Switzerland and would only be activated in Turkey if he reoffends during the next five years.

The lawyer and former colonel in the Swiss army took a leave of absence on November 23rd to run for election to the government as a member of of the Liberal-Radical party.

He withdrew from the race after the first round of voting earlier this month following a disappointing showing.

Varone earlier described the marble theft as an innocent mistake.

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