Around 80 Cypriot religious treasures found in the possession of Turkish art smuggler Aydin Dikmen will be repatriated in 2014, Neapolis bishop Porfyrios said on Thursday.
Speaking to The Cyprus News Agency, Porfyrios, who is the representative of the Church of Cyprus in Brussels, said some of the religious objects linked to the Dikmen case have not been repatriated pending further investigation.
"It's a matter of around 80 objects, half of which are prehistoric and other antiquities and belong to the Antiquities Department. The rest are Byzantine objects, mainly icons, some frescoes and some manuscripts and three pairs of Royal Doors."
Porfyrios explained that once the opinion of experts is submitted, the appellant will position himself on the fate and repatriation of these objects. "We hope that the case will close within the year."
It is estimated that around 20,000 religious objects have been stolen and exported from the occupied north after the Turkish invasion. The Church of Cyprus in cooperation with the Attorney General's office and the Antiquities Department has achieved the repatriation of hundreds of objects stolen from Cyprus including 173 pieces that were found in Dikmen's Munich apartment and were repatriated last year.
"There are many objects still missing. Time is against us and as time passes, the traces of stolen objects are lost."
The bishop referred to a second case in which a legal battle is underway concerning two icons from the church of Saint Iacovos (Adelphotheou) in occupied Trikomo and the 17th century icons of Christ and the Virgin Mary that were confiscated in Switzerland from a Russian collector.
"There are also some objects in the occupied areas which are inside churches that the Turkish occupying forces have turned into museums," he added.
Porfyrios referred to around 12 such churches and other sites like Kyrenia Castle, where there are still icons. In his dialogue with the Turkish Cypriot Mufti, Archbishop Chrysostomos II proposed the creation of a mixed group for recording these objects.