The Church of Cyprus has announced that 34 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, according to the Greek Reporter.
Among the artifacts, 24 are Byzantine relics and some prehistoric antiquities coming mostly from the collection of Chr. Chatziprodromou, from Ayios Epiktitos Church. Among the Byzantine relics there 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. Also the treasures 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 UN, the World Council of Churches and many other international and religious organisations.