RENEWAL OF THE MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING TO COMBAT THE LOOTING AND TRAFFICKING OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL FINDS BETWEEN THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARK OF POMPEII andTHE PUBLIC PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE OF TORRE ANNUNZIATA
Two years on from first being signed, the Memorandum of Understanding between the Archaeological Park of Pompeii and the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Torre Annunziata, aimed at combating the criminal phenomenon of looting archaeological sites and of trafficking finds and artworks, has been renewed, confirming the successful cooperation between the two bodies.
The initial agreement was signed in 2019, and the last two years have witnessed a close collaboration between the two institutions concerned. Among the various interventions we may note in particular the Civita Giuliana area, where a joint operation led to the cessation of the criminal activities of grave robbers operating in the area of an ancient suburban villa (outside the ancient walls), whilst at the same time resulting in extraordinary scientific discoveries.
Through this renewal, the protocol has been confirmed as a pilot model in the fight against illegal activities which affect archaeological and artistic heritage.
On Wednesday 28th July, at the Public Prosecutor’s Office at the Court of Torre Annunziata, acting Chief Prosecutor Nunzio Fragliasso and Director General Gabriel Zuchtriegel signed an extension of the agreement for a further two years.
“This memorandumconfirms that, where institutions collaborate towards common objectives, extraordinary results can be achieved, in terms of legality and protection, such as in the case of Civita Giuliana”, - declares Director General Zuchtriegel - “For this we must give credit to the foresight of Director Osanna, who was able to seize the opportunity, along with the Public Prosecutor’s Office, to transform a targeted operation into a model tool, which can be reproduced in different situations, formalising the good working practices deployed.”
“The protection of the immense historical, artistic, archaeological and cultural heritage present within its jurisdiction is one of the priorities of the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Torre Annunziata” – emphasises Public Prosecutor Fragliasso - “The commitment of this Office in this regard will be constant over the coming years, in a sign of continuity regarding the work launched together with Professor Osanna. Within this context, we place today’s renewal of the memorandum signed in 2019 by the Public Prosecutor’s Office with the Archaeological Park of Pompeii, which represents a true ‘pilot’ agreement in the field of collaboration between institutions for the protection of national archaeological heritage, and which has proved to be a formidable tool for returning finds and remains of exceptional historical and cultural value to the community”.
The renewed memorandum maintains the various points and reciprocal obligations of the Park and the Public Prosecutor’s Office, along the lines of the first agreement.
The jurisdiction of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii, and more particularly the suburban area where various settlements are present (including certain villas and necropoleis), whose protection also falls within the jurisdictional objectives of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, have over the years been affected by several instances of damage and theft.
The purpose of the memorandum is to continue to maintain a constant and rapid channel for the exchange of information and news, as well as the implementation of shared procedures - already initiated - with due regard for reciprocal powers and competences, in order to put a stop to criminal activities and halt the repeated looting of archaeological sites permanently.
Themain points of the agreement include:
The Public Prosecutor’s Office undertakesto promptly and formally communicate to the Park all the information in its possession relating to illegal activities in its areas of competence, and where appropriate to request the carrying out of archaeological probes or full excavations. Authorisation will be given for the presence on site of officers from the Judicial Police, authorised to inspect tunnels and passageways and to confiscate the objects and tools of crime, as well as to view the discovered finds, which will be entrusted to the Park for custodial purposes.
The Park, for its part, undertakesto activate, if requested, urgent procedures to initiate related excavations in the area of investigative interest. The excavations, as well as ensuring compliance with all standards of scientific investigation, will assist in providing all the evidence of illegal activity that is useful to the investigations.
Furthermore, it must periodically provide an updated archaeological map of the relevant area, with indications of unexplored areas of interest subdivided by typology (necropoleis, suburban villas and infrastructural monuments etc.), any excavations which have been legally conducted and subsequently filled in, and any previous illegal excavations which have been reported.
The Park shall additionally undertake to provide a detailed list of stolen cultural goods, including those which according to various sources are currently located in foreign territory, in order to allow a complete and updated perspective of the phenomenon and to better direct investigations.
The memorandum shall be valid for an additional two years, with the further possibility of renewal.