THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — An appeals court in Amsterdam said Tuesday it needs more time to rule on the ownership of a valuable trove of historical artifacts loaned to a Dutch museum by four museums in Crimea shortly before the region's annexation by Russia in 2014.
The Amsterdam Court of Appeal said in an interim ruling that it needs "greater clarity" on the competing claims by Ukraine and the museums in Crimea. The court says it expects to deliver a final judgment in six to nine months.
Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea left the approximately 300 artifacts, including bronze swords, golden helmets and precious, gems in a legal limbo, as both Ukraine and the Crimean museums now controlled by Russia have demanded their return by Amsterdam's Allard Pierson Museum.
"It is now a question of deciding who has the strongest rights; either the Crimean museums claiming a right of operational management under Ukrainian law, or the Ukrainian State claiming ownership of the Crimean treasures," the court said.
The Dutch museum had borrowed the artifacts for an exhibition that opened a month before the annexation. It has kept them in storage pending resolution of the cultural tug-of-war and declined comment on the legal proceedings.
The court ruled that the Amsterdam museum was entitled to hold onto the artifacts "in view of the complex situation in Crimea."
Among the objects in the exhibition are a solid gold Scythian helmet from the 4th century B.C. and a golden neck ornament from the 2nd century A.D. that each weigh more than 2 pounds.
By MICHAEL CORDER Associated Press
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