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COLOMBIA

Swiss return ceramic treasure to Peru

Swiss authorities have returned a pre-Columbian ceramic jug to Peru after police caught someone trying to sell it over the internet.

The Geneva public prosecutor's office said on Friday that it had returned the small, two-handled jug dating from the pre-Columbian Chancay period between the 12th and 15th centuries to the Peruvian embassy in Bern.

"It is priceless," Sophie Bernard, a spokeswoman for the office, told AFP.

Federal Swiss police discovered last year that a man born in 1981 and living in Geneva was trying to sell the archaeological artifact over the internet using a pseudonym, the prosecutor's office said in a statement.

The beige jug with its dark-lined motif had likely been found during "illegal excavations carried out in the valleys of Chillon, Chancay or Huara", to the north of Lima, it said.

The person who tried to sell the archaeological treasure would face charges for handling stolen goods and violating a law prohibiting the transfer of cultural objects, it added.

He could face up to five years behind bars, Bernard said.

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TURKEY

Swiss drop probe against Turkish minister

Swiss prosecutors said on Monday they would drop a probe into alleged remarks by Turkey's EU affairs minister denying the Armenian genocide, as the official enjoyed diplomatic immunity.

“After consultations with the Federal Department for Foreign Affairs, prosecutors of canton Zurich came to the conclusion that no criminal proceedings would be opened against Egemen Bagis, because as a Turkish EU minister he enjoyed immunity during his entire stay in Switzerland,” said
prosecutors in a statement.

Denial of the Armenian genocide is a crime under Swiss anti-racism laws.

Bagis reportedly made the comments to a journalist during a visit to Zurich after attending the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in end-January in Davos.

According to Turkey’s English-language newspaper Today’s Zaman, he was asked about his views on a newly-adopted French bill criminalizing denial of the Armenian genocide and responded: “Switzerland is another country where it is a crime to deny the so-called genocide”.

“Here I am in Switzerland today, and I’m saying the 1915 incidents did not amount to genocide. Let them come arrest me.”

The paper said a complaint had been filed by members of Switzerland’s Armenian community.

Armenia says that planned massacres and deportations under the Ottoman Empire left more than 1.5 million of its people dead in 1915, but Turkey maintains there was no genocide, saying there were no more than 500,000 fatalities as a result of civil strife and the impact of World War I.

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