Harsher punishment for artefact thieves
The Archaeology Department submitted a draft Bill for the amendment
of the Antiquities Ordinance, to the Cabinet, with provision to mete out
harsher punishment for artefact thieves and treasure hunters.
No bail will be granted for suspects of artefact thefts in accordance
with the Antiquities Ordinance amendment proposals, Archaeology
Department Museum and Maintenance Deputy Director M A J R Madagammana
told the Daily News.
"A two- year jail term will be mandatory against those who commit
artefact thefts or destroy ancient archaeological sites for treasures,"
The amendments also seek to increase the fines and sanctions for
those engaged in illegal excavations for treasure. The present fine of
Rs 250, 000 against artefact crimes will be increased to Rs two million
under the proposed Bill, Madagammana said.
According to Archaeology Department sources, over 125 treasure
hunting and artefact theft cases, including the Colombo Museum theft,
have been reported during the year.
Asked if they were satisfied with the investigations carried out by
the police into these incidents, Madagammana said: "They have been
helpful in arresting those who have committed these acts."
"For the most part, these are villagers who have been drawn into
illegal excavation by some moneyed bosses. It appears that they somehow
get away," he said.