Dutch appeals court rules museum must return Crimean artifacts to Ukraine
© WikiMedia (NASA)
Dutch appeals court rules museum must return Crimean artifacts to Ukraine

The Amsterdam Court of Appeal ruled on Tuesday that a collection of ancient Crimean artifacts should be returned to Ukraine, previously kept in the Russian-annexed peninsula.

Upholding the decision of the lower court, Judge Pauling Hofmeijer-Rutten found that the Allard Pierson Museum (APC) in Amsterdam had to hand over the artifacts to Ukraine. The pieces in question included helmets, gold, and gems that formed the exhibition “Crimea- Gold and secrets of the Black sea.” The exhibition that included these pieces on loan in 2014 created a dispute between the Museum and Ukraine. The lower court found that on the basis of the Heritage Act the treasures were to be returned, but a Ukrainian court would have to determine the ownership rights of the pieces.

While the outcomes between the lower and appeals courts were the same, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal disregarded the Heritage Act because the artifacts were first brought to Germany, then to the Netherlands with valid export licenses. This negated Ukraine’s ability to claim possession under the act. Instead, the court found that there was significant public interest in returning the artifacts to Ukraine under the country’s Museums Act of 1995.

The decision may still be appealed to the Netherlands Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Ukraine Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal praised the ruling while the APC maintains all of the artifacts until the appeals are settled.