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Madrid orders Catalonia to give back disputed artistic relics

Decorated burial caskets, part of the collection in a Lleida museum.
Decorated burial caskets, part of the collection in a Lleida museum. / EFE
  • The items, of high historic and monetary value, have been at the centre of a long-running dispute between Catalonia and Aragón going back over two decades

The ministry for Culture has ordered Catalan officials to return 44 pieces of disputed religious art to the neighbouring region of Aragón.

The items, of high historic and monetary value, have been at the centre of a long-running dispute between Catalonia and Aragón going back over two decades. They used to be in the Sijena monastery in Aragón but were sold between 1983 and 1994 to Catalan museums.

These sales were subsequently declared illegal, but despite handing back some lesser value pieces, others are still held in a museum in the Catalan city of Lleida. Now that central government is controlling the Catalan government until elections next month, the ministry has said they must go back to Aragón even if the outcome of a legal appeal by Catalonia hasn't been decided.