A Belgian tourist is facing time in prison after 'stealing' stones in Turkey.
Kim Mergits from Antwerp, Belgium has been accused of stealing archaeological artefacts after taking three stones during a day out in Manavgat, a town in the east of Antalya, Turkey.
Mergits reportedly took the three stones and packed them in her suitcase to take home, with the idea to put them in her aquarium.
After the stones were discovered in her possession and Mergits was detained at the airport, the three stones were sent off by the Provincial Directorate of Culture and Tourism of Antalya for analysis at Antalya Museum, as per local media reports, quoted by The Brussels Times.
The museum's experts revealed two of the three stones were marble 'floor covering pieces' and the third stone 'with two stylised rosettes on it was an architectural decoration piece'.
The analysis of the stones resolved they are indeed protected by Turkey's law on the protection of cultural and natural assets and so are subsequently banned from being taken out of the country.
As per Article 24, the law states: "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.
"The control of such works to be taken abroad by any means can be carried out by museums affiliated with the Ministry or by specialized personnel at some customs exit gates. Which doors will have specialized personnel is determined in a regulation."
Mergits remains detained in Turkey awaiting trial. According to 7sur7, she was able to 'speak to the judge' to find out she's 'suspected of smuggling archaeological stones'.
According to the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, Turkey 'severely regulates' and 'punishes' people found guilty of fraud in relation to 'the export of cultural goods and antiquities'.
The 28-year-old tourist told Sky News: "We understand that we are wrong and that we did something that is not accordance with the law here but just give us a fine. We are going to pay that. It doesn't matter how much.
"We understand that a mistake has been done. But I am being punished much harder."