Peru to sue Swedish city for theft of ancient textiles

Peru will sue the Swedish city of Gothenburg on charges of being accomplices in the theft of ancient pre-Columbian textiles on exhibit in their museum, President Alan Garcia said Monday.

Garcia said that Peru wants back more that 100 colorful Paracas culture textiles, which are more than 2,000 years old. The textiles are on exhibit at the city-owned Museum of World Culture in Gothenburg, in southern Sweden.

The Paracas culture flourished on Peru's southern coast from around 100 BC to 200 AD, but little was known about their people until archaeological excavations starting in the 1920s.

"We have the right to pursue legal action at the international level, through Interpol, and to seek the arrest of those who are accomplices in the pillaging of a civilization," Garcia said during a ceremony at the foreign affairs ministry.

According to the Gothenburg museum website, "large quantities of Paracas textiles were smuggled out of Peru and illegally exported to museums and private collections all over the world around 1930. About a hundred of them were smuggled to Sweden and donated to the Ethnographic Department of Göteborg Museum."

The town officially possesses 89 of the textiles, displayed since 2008 and under surveillance, according to the website.

In May 2010, Sweden returned 33 pre-Columbian textile fragments to Peru, the Latin American country most affected by theft of archaeological artifacts.

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