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Finn held over Easter Island ear

Moai statue on Easter Island with its earlobe missing (24 March 2008)
The authorities are inspecting the statue to see if it can be repaired

The authorities on Easter Island have detained a Finnish tourist on suspicion of trying to steal an earlobe of one of the world-famous moai stone statues.

Police on the Pacific island, which is an overseas territory of Chile, said a woman had seen him rip off the earlobe, which then fell and broke into pieces.

Marko Kulju could face seven years in prison and a fine if convicted under laws protecting national monuments.

The statues of Polynesian ancestors are believed to be up to 1,000 years old.

There are nearly 900 moai on Easter Island, in various stages of construction, some of them more than 10m (33ft) tall and weighing more than 80 tons.

The island's Rapa Nui National Park, in which the moai are situated, became a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1995.

Fortunately, this type of thing does not happen everyday, but it does happen, and it is almost impossible to control
Liliana Castro
Easter Island government

Mr Kulju was visiting Anakena beach on Sunday when he was allegedly seen using his hands to tear off the earlobe of a 4m (13ft) high moai, Easter Island Police Chief Cristian Gonzalez told the Associated Press.

The earlobe then fell to the ground and broke into 20-30cm pieces, at least one of which Mr Kulju allegedly attempted to steal, Mr Gonzalez added.

"Fortunately, this type of thing does not happen every day but it does happen and it is almost impossible to control because on Easter Island there are sites of great archaeological value everywhere and the park guards cannot prevent all such incidents," government official Liliana Castro said.

Authorities on the island are inspecting the statue to see if it can be repaired.

Chile mulls Easter Island limits
07 Aug 05 |  Americas
Country profile: Chile
28 Feb 08 |  Country profiles


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