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Top court gives green light to removal of stunning antiquities from Thessaloniki metro station

Greece’s highest administrative court, the Council of State (CoS), has given the green light for the temporary removal and repositioning of the antiquities unearthed during excavation work for the Thessaloniki metro in northern Greece.

With the majority of a single vote (13-12) the judges of the CoS approved the removal of the antiquities and ruled their reposition by 92 percent. Where the remaining 8% will end up is unknown.

The antiquities were discovered at the under-construction Venizelou metro station. Archaeological excavations brought to light a whole city from the ancient Greece and Rome, dated 4th and early 3rd centuries BC, and over 300,000 stunning findings.

A debate over how to proceed has raised considerable controversy among archaeologists, local authorities and Attiko Metro, the company managing the project.

The court rejected by a thin margin all three appeals filed by scientists, professionals and non-governmental groups against the Culture Ministry decision to move the antiquities to storage outside the city and place them back after the station’s construction.

Among those who appealed were main opposition SYRIZA, left-wing ANTARSYA and former mayor Giannis Boutaris.

In its ruling, the court said that the temporary relocation of the monument was deemed necessary in order to ensure its integrity and protection during the works as well as to prevent a risk to human health during the execution of the project.

The project is already many years behind schedule, due to the discoveries. The construction of the Thessaloniki metro was commissioned in 2003 and was initially expected to be completed by 2012.

Now authorities hope to have complete the project by 2023.

sources: kathimerini, KTG, others

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