A Belgian couple vacationing in the Manavgat district of Antalya, Turkey, encountered legal troubles as they faced accusations of attempting to smuggle ancient artifacts out of the country.
Subsequently released under judicial control, they are now subject to a travel ban. This incident has been depicted in Belgian media as a case of unwarranted victimization, igniting a wave of negative campaigns against Turkey. Contrary to such portrayals, experts from Antalya Museum have authenticated that the artifacts in question originate from the Roman period.
The couple, who returned to their hotel with three stones they claimed to have found at different locations in the region, were caught at the Antalya Airport on September 16th. Warre Mergits had placed the stones in his suitcase, and around 19:55, he put his suitcase through the X-ray machine at the Antalya Airport’s second international terminal.
The X-ray machine operator, a police officer, detected three foreign objects wrapped in clothes. Upon detailed inspection, the Mergits were asked to open their suitcase. The officers found three pieces of marble wrapped first in a plastic bag and then in clothes. The couple told the police officers present, “We found these while wandering around the seaside and the surroundings. We took them as souvenirs and were going to place them in our aquarium at home.”
The Mergits were detained on suspicion of smuggling historical artifacts, and the marble pieces were sent to the Antalya Museum Directorate for examination by experts, under the instructions of the Antalya Republic Prosecutor’s Office.
The stones were confirmed to be from the Roman period by the Antalya Museum experts and have been taken under protection in the museum. The portrayal of the incident in Belgian media as a case of victimization has led to a wave of negative publicity against Turkey, despite the proven historical significance of the confiscated items. (Patronlar Dünyasi)