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Turkish court sentences Swiss police chief to 1 year for antique trafficking

The police chief of Switzerland's Cantone Valais, who was detained last year on charges of trafficking antiquities, was sentenced to one year and 15 days in prison by the Antalya 2nd High Criminal Court on Tuesday. Christian Varone, 49, was held for four days last year after police seized a sizable piece of a monument in his luggage at the Antalya airport when he was returning to his homeland in August. A local court ordered his arrest based on Law 2863 on the Protection of the Cultural and National Heritage. However, he was released and deported to his country after only a few days of detention. Varone was absent from the hearing, which many members of the Swiss and Turkish media attended. After listening to statements by lawyers for the Culture Ministry and Varone, the judge sentenced Varone to one year and 15 days in prison and a TL 500 fine for attempting to smuggle a historic artifact from a Turkish museum. However, the judge suspended the sentence, on the condition that Varone be placed under five years of supervised release in Switzerland. This means Varone can travel freely to Turkey, and if he does not commit a crime in the next five years, he will not face the prison sentence.

Varone's lawyers, Yasemin Matarcı and Zafer Köken, told press that they are pleased with the decision of the court and that they will not appeal.

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