When tourists travel to a certain country, they are actually considered “invested” in that place. So, it is easy for them to think that they can just bring home stuff they stumble upon, like beach sands or archaeological stones.
But you may want to think twice about bringing things you find during your trip as souvenirs, as this Belgian tourist is facing time in prison after trying to bring hom stones she found while touring Türkiye.
Faces prison for allegedly stealing stones
Authorities are accusing Kim Mergits, who hails from Antwerp, of allegedly stealing archaeological artifacts after she took three stones during her and her partner’s day tour in Manavgat, a town in Türkiye’s Antalya city.
She packed the stones in her suitcase, planning to place them in her aquarium back home, but she was stopped at the airport after authorities found out about them. She is detained, and now is facing a heavy fine, which, if unpaid, can lead to a potential prison sentence.
The stones Mergits took were analyzed by Antalya Museum, and it found out that two of the three stones were marble floor covering pieces, while the other with two stylized rosettes on it was an architectural decoration piece.
The law prohibits the act
Türkiye’s law actually protects its cultural and natural assets, banning anybody from taking them out of the country.
The law says, “It is the responsibility of the State to keep movable cultural and natural assets, which are state property and need to be protected, in State hands and in museums, and to protect and evaluate them. Among such assets, those held by real and legal persons can be purchased by the Ministry by paying their value…”
Mergits is requesting authorities not to imprison her, adding that she is willing to pay the fine.