Greek police recover stolen Olympia artefacts, arrest three

ATHENS, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Greek police have recovered

antiquities stolen from a museum in Ancient Olympia and arrested

three people, police said on Saturday.

The robbery in February, which came just after a theft at

the country's National Gallery, prompted outrage from many arts

and culture workers who said budget cutbacks from austerity

measures had left Greece's vast art treasures at risk.

During the robbery, armed thieves overpowered a female guard

and made off with about 70 bronze, pottery and other artefacts

at the museum in Olympia, birthplace of the Olympic Games.

Many of the artefacts stolen were found buried in a field

about 3 km from the archaeological site in the southern

Pelopponese region, police said. The three people arrested were

charged with robbery of antiquities.

"Despite the difficult economic situation we are not being

lax on security issues, especially over our cultural heritage,"

Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias told a news conference.

Police said the men were arrested after one of them tried to

sell an ancient gold ring to an undercover policeman for 1.5

million euros ($2 million). The antiquities will be returned to

the museum next week.

($1 = 0.7717 euros)

(Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas; Writing by Deepa Babington;

Editing by Alison Williams)

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