SANTIAGO: A Chilean court said on Thursday it will hear a case against a businessman accused of hoarding statues, historic rifles and indigenous artifacts allegedly stolen from public parks, cemeteries and museums at his posh estate south of Santiago.
Raul Schuler, an agricultural entrepreneur from San Francisco de Mostazal, a small town ringed by wineries and fruit plantations, was charged with violating Chilean environmental laws that protect national monuments as well as regulations governing the possession of weapons, according to court filings.
Schuler could not be reached immediately for comment.
The stolen loot discovered at the 74-year old business magnate's estate included 13 pre-Columbian artifacts discovered in the piano room as well as fossils, pre-Columbian textiles, rifles from Chile's War of the Pacific, ceramics and other indigenous artifacts from various regions of Chile.
Schuler also displayed twenty marble statues in courtyards at his home. Many had recently been on display in public spaces in Santiago.
The total haul was valued at around US$400,000, according to court documents.
(Reporting by Erik Lopez,;writing by Marion Giraldo and Dave Sherwood; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)