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Tuesday, June 9, 1998 Published at 17:02 GMT 18:02 UK

World: Europe

Greece demands damaged Marbles

Scrubbed too hard - the Elgin Marbles at the British Museum

The BBC's Michael Voss reports from Athens

The Greek government has renewed its calls for Britain to return the Elgin Marbles following revelations that the ancient Greek sculptures were damaged by over-zealous cleaning at the British Museum in the 1930s.

All of the main Greek newspapers are giving prominent coverage to the allegations that the Elgin Marbles were damaged by too much scrubbing.

"Bring the Elgin Marbles Back Now" is the front page banner headline on one newspaper.

Greece's Minister of Culture, Mr Evangelos Venizelos, says the news undermines one of Britain's main arguments for keeping the Elgin Marbles.

He will be formally writing to his British counterpart requesting their return.

These 2,500-year-old sculptures, part of a much larger frieze from the Parthenon in Athens, were legally removed by Lord Elgin early last century, but for years the Greek government has been pressurising Britain for their return.

Now with plans to build a new museum of archaeology and the fact that Greece will host the Olympic Games in the year 2004, the Greek government hopes that this latest news may be enough to get Britain to change its mind.

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