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July 31, 2007

The end of True's Trials?

ROME – Marion True's trial may soon be over, I was told yesterday by Maurizio Fiorilli, one of two state prosecutors leading the case, who is also the man negotiating bilateral accords on restitution with American museums. The two issues are linked. He said he is close to an agreement with the Getty over the 52 items Italy has demanded be returned. (I note that the LA Times has a similar story today.) And he said that once that is accomplished, the trial against Marion True can be expected to come to a quiet close, perhaps as soon as the next two months. He said he would withdraw the civil prosecution, and the criminal prosecutor would be expected to negotiate a jail sentence of two to three years. I was amazed at how explicitly he linked the two actions, making no bones about the fact that True’s trial is a pressure tactic to force the Getty to heel. “This is my experience,” Fiorilli said, pragmatically. “Until today, no American museum has accepted to return artifacts based on the scientific evidence.” Hence: hardball, Italian-style. He confirmed many other fascinating things that I’d learned from other sources. That will have to wait for the book.