The prosecutor requested a 240-day fine of 20 euros. The decision was reserved for February 22.
“All these objects were going to the landfill, I found it lame”: presenting himself as a history buff, a 45-year-old man appeared in court on Wednesday in Aix en Provence for having plundered, for years, the former largest American military camp in Europe.
“Didn’t you know it was forbidden to search?” “, asks the president to the defendant, who, since “very small”, used to walk in this area.
“I know it’s forbidden on prehistory, the Romans, all that, but I didn’t know at all that it was forbidden for the last war”, defends the man, in whom thousands of objects, essentially from the Second World War, have been found.
Weapons, badges, identity discs but also everyday objects from the former Camp de Calas, where two million American soldiers transited, between 1944 and 1946, west of Aix -in Provence.
“It is the largest military camp that has been set up in Europe, it is an entire city that we had created”, reminds AFP Xavier Delestre, regional curator of archeology at the Department of Cultural Affairs. Next door was a German prison camp, from which some of the looted items also came.
“I found very degraded old revolvers, if I hadn’t kept them, they would still be underground”, defended the defendant, who for twelve years had been using a metal detector, as well as a mini backhoe , Once.
“He is accused of having badly preserved objects which were already in poor condition”, stings his lawyer, master Samir Bouchama. The exhumed objects were exhibited at his client’s home, where an entire room was dedicated to them, but also stored in two garages and five containers.
Restoration costs ranging “from 1,000 to 3,000 euros per object”
These conservation conditions, in particular due to the significant temperature variations in the containers, have caused “significant damage” to these remains, underlined the president, citing restoration costs “from 1,000 to 3,000 euros per object “.
“The best protection” for these remains, “is to leave them as they are”, recalled Xavier Delestre at the helm.
Anxious to see a “concrete sanction” imposed, so that the defendant becomes aware of “the damage created to French cultural heritage”, the prosecutor, Antoine Guintini, requested a 240-day fine of 20 euros.
“When you love history, you don’t trample it”, argued the lawyer for the Drac, Maître Pascal Antiq, according to whom, in this case, “sir has degraded this site for his personal pleasure”: here ” we have gone from passion to compulsion, perhaps even to pathology”.
The decision was reserved for February 22.