Ancient £250k golden crown to be returned to Turkey

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Murat Aksakalli, pictured, lost a seven-year legal battle over ownership of a £250,000 ancient gold crown

Murat Aksakalli, pictured, lost a seven-year legal battle over ownership of a £250,000 ancient gold crown

Murat Aksakalli, pictured, lost a seven-year legal battle over ownership of a £250,000 ancient gold crown

A golden crown worth £250,000 is to be returned to Turkey after a former Edinburgh cafe owner lost his claim that he had inherited it from his grandfather.

The decision ends a seven-year legal wrangle over the antique – thought to have been sealed in a tomb in 350BC – after the Turkish government and Murat Aksakalli both claimed ownership.

Yesterday, the Court of Session concluded the wreath was stolen from a tomb in Turkey and should be returned to the country’s government.

The crown was seized by police in 2010 when Mr Aksakalli, who ran the Clock Cafe in Edinburgh, tried to sell it to undercover detectives.

Officers believed the crown, which is being held by Police Scotland, was looted during an excavation in Turkey.

A judge decided not to bring criminal proceedings against Mr Aksakalli but ordered that the antique be returned to its owner.

But the case was taken to Scotland’s highest civil court after the Turkish government and the businessman both claimed ownership.

According to a Turkish report, it may have been plundered from a tomb in the ancient city of Milas between 2000 and 2010.

Mr Aksakalli had previously claimed the crown had been in his family for generations and that he brought it with him when he moved to Scotland several years ago.

In December last year, the businessman sought to have the crown released by the police so that it could be examined by an independent expert.

But a judge at the Court of Session told Mr Aksakalli that further information would have to be provided before forensic soil analysis could be carried out on the item. 

Judge Lady Stacey said she could understand the concerns of Turkish authorities about the item’s security and the court had to ‘be satisfied that there was no obvious danger to the crown before a full court hearing’.

The crown, pictured, dates to 350BC and a Scottish court ruled it had been taken from a tomb in Turkey and had to be returned to the country's government

The crown, pictured, dates to 350BC and a Scottish court ruled it had been taken from a tomb in Turkey and had to be returned to the country's government

The crown, pictured, dates to 350BC and a Scottish court ruled it had been taken from a tomb in Turkey and had to be returned to the country’s government

Steven Jansch, representing the Turkish authorities, said he had no difficulty in principle with an investigation taking place but added: ‘I do have serious concerns about security measures… if it is to be released.’

The court heard that the crown had been taken to the Turkish embassy in London in 2013 for forensic analysis. It was returned to the police a week later.

Mr Aksakalli said: ‘I should be given the same chance.’

But Lady Stacey said more information was required about who was to examine the item, what would be done and whether the work could be carried out in Edinburgh at the police headquarters. If that was not possible, the court would need further details.

Mr Aksakalli, of Edinburgh, was not in court for comment.



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