Man caught trying to sell Gadhafi’s dagger in Turkey
ISTANBULA businessman has been caught in Istanbul trying to sell a dagger looted from the palace of former Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi. He was trying to sell the dagger, which was made of ivory and garnished with gold, emeralds, diamonds, rubies and sapphires, for $10 million, Turkish daily Habertürk reported on June 13.
The businessman, identified as A.A., was caught by anti-smuggling police as he tried to sell the dagger to Saudi businessmen.
“Your exchange office should pay our exchange office $10 million. If the dagger is not authentic, then you can come and take your money from us,” A.A. told the police, who had disguised themselves as customers wanting to buy the dagger.
The police then began to track the businessman, who was a textile exporter from the southeastern province of Mardin, and started an operation after learning he was going to sell the dagger to his Saudi customers in a hotel in the Bakırköy district of Istanbul.
A.A., who left Istanbul’s Bahçeşehir district in one of three luxury cars, was stopped by the anti-smuggling police, who were disguised as traffic police. The cars were trying to reach Bakırköy separately from three different roads and the dagger was found in the trunk of one of the cars. The businessman and two others working with him were detained in the operation.
A.A. claimed he bought Gadhafi’s dagger from the opposition groups in Libya for $4.6 million.
The dagger was later sent to Turkey’s Chamber of Jewelers to prove its authenticity and the chamber concluded that the dagger was original. It was worth at least $2 million, according to the chamber.
Legal action was taken against the businessman for the ivory in the dagger, which violated the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and for smuggling.
Gadhafi’s dagger was seized on the grounds that it was a piece incompatible with CITES and was brought to Turkey illegally.