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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 November 2005, 18:02 GMT
Ex-Getty curator appears in court
Marion True
Marion True faces two charges of trafficking antiquities
The former curator of the J Paul Getty Musuem in California has appeared in a Rome court charged with trafficking stolen antiquities.

Marion True, together with art dealer Robert Hecht, denies two separate charges involving 35 artefacts bought between 1986 and the late 1990s.

They include bronze Etruscan pieces, frescoes, and painted Greek Vessels.

The Getty museum has stood by Ms True's work. She left the court after the hearing without comment.

Wednesday's hearing dealt largely with defence arguments and other technicalities.

Charges denied

The 57-year-old resigned from the Los Angeles museum last month. She could face up to eight years in jail if found guilty, but the judge has the option to increase the sentence if the court ruled a very large number of antiquities are involved.

Ms True, 57, and Mr Hecht, 86, deny charges of receiving stolen antiquities and conspiring to deal in illegally-acquired artefacts.

A 1939 Italian law states any ancient artefact that turns up in a dig belongs to the state, and nothing excavated after that date can leave the country.

'Dug up by thieves'

Some of the antiquities covered in the case were allegedly dug up by thieves who specialise in robbing ancient Etruscan tombs or Roman ruins.

They are then said to have been sold on by dealers in Switzerland to American and European museums.

Mr Hecht did not attend the hearing, saying he was advised by his lawyer not to because of its technical nature. The art dealer is alleged by prosecutors to have worked as an intermediary.

Last week, members of the Italian police's art trafficking squad returned from Los Angeles with three ancient pieces from Getty's collection.

Italian authorities hope the case will help the state recover antiquities which were illegally excavated or exported.

The trial resumes on 5 December.

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