Chinese tourist accused of smuggling cultural relics in Turkey

Monday, April 02 2012 @ 09:15 am UTC

Du and his wife and his mother boarded a plane in Brussels, capital of Belgium, Istanbul, Turkey on March 18 to visit the southwestern resort town of Antalya, where the defendant bought a rectangular stone from a street vendor for a price of 20 euros. "I know that Turkey is a major exporter of marble and is famous for its precious stones, so I bought the object in memory," said Du.

Wanting from Antalya, four days later, customs officials from the local airport they were informed that they were suspected of smuggling and acquired the stone was considered a cultural artifact, according to Du.

Then the police put under house arrest Du and his family waiting for a court to decide whether they can be found guilty, in which case they would have been fined and imprisoned in accordance with local law.

With the help of the Chinese Embassy in Turkey, Du and his family could leave the house arrest, but were confined to the town of Antalya until a local court rule on the case.

Du related his experience in the Sina Weibo microblog, very popular in China, and his words were relayed by thousands of users down to an official account of the Tourism Bureau of Turkey.

Through the mediation of the bureau and elsewhere, the Turkish authorities finally released the three Chinese citizens and allowed them to return home on Wednesday.

However, Du still faces a charge of smuggling and Turkey is expected to issue a fatwa on 10 April. The defendant insists on his innocence and said he was unaware of the ban on export of certain stones from Turkey.

'To make matters worse, did not ask for bill, because I bought the stone at a flea market, "said Du.

According to China's embassy in Turkey, the Turkish authorities have banned export different types of stones, including sea foam, widely used for making pipes and tubes of cigarettes.

"I hope that in future the Turkish authorities IT NOW more information on this rule to prevent the recurrence of similar situations," said Du.

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