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Thursday, 4 July, 2002, 19:43 GMT 20:43 UK
Divers told to return sunken treasure
Divers generic
Divers found the wreck off the Italian coast
Divers have been told to hand over a 100,000 haul of treasure recovered from a shipwreck after police suspected the find was stolen.

The divers, from Norfolk and Suffolk, brought the haul of gold and diamonds ashore from a wreck near Elba, off Italy, two years ago.

The group claim they had permission to recover what they thought was cargo from a merchant ship.

But the Metropolitan and Italian police officers believe the find was stolen from the scene.

Napoleon's hair

The haul recovered by the divers including gold and silver coins, loose diamonds and a gold locket thought to contain a lock of Napoleon's hair.

David Dixon, a director of the diving team, said they believed the items were from the Glen Logan, a merchant ship sunk by a German U-boat in 1916.

He said the group had permission from the Italian authorities to salvage the Glen Logan.

But the valuables were actually onboard a 19th Century packet steamer, it is believed.

"We felt that we had done the right thing when we lodged the find with the Receiver of Wreck in the UK," said Mr Dixon.

Auction seizure

"To placate the Italians and keep everyone happy we have agreed to let the stuff go back to Italy."

Police seized the items from an auction house in London last year, said a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police.

"The artefacts, which were intended for auction, are believed to have been stolen from a wrecked sea vessel in Italy," he said.

"The property is in the process of being returned to the Italian authorities."

During the investigation three of the group were arrested and cautioned for handling stolen goods.

A spokeswoman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, said: "Anything recovered from the wreck should be reported to the Italian authorities, and it's my understanding that it wasn't."


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03 Jul 02 | Scotland
25 Feb 02 | Europe
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