20 Dec 2011

Vanuatu Cultural Centre says millions of dollars worth of sacred stones still missing

1:44 pm on 20 December 2011

The Vanuatu Cultural Center says a hunt for more than two-million US dollars worth of sacred stones is continuing after they were stolen ten years ago.

Police and the Cultural Center are investigating alleged plans to illegally export taboo carved stones taken from a sacred ceremonial site in northwest Malekula.

The Centre's director, Marcellin Ambong, says police have retrieved 11 stones worth more than 1.8 million US dollars.

He says an investigation into illicit trafficking of artefacts which began five years ago is continuing, with police hoping to find another 35 sacred stones.

"There is a big box of some of these sacred stones that has been transported to Port Vila via one of these ships. And now we are investigating where these stones are at the moment."

Marcellin Ambong says the Cultural Centre has been issuing warnings to shipping agencies to be on the lookout for suspicious container exports.