The Japan Times, October 21, 1998
French village considers suit over theft of Neolithic finds
PARIS (Reuters) Officials of a small hamlet in France's Languedoc region announced Monday that legal action for negligence might be launched against a neighboring village after a Neolithic cave was raided by robbers just hours after its discovery.
A road worker stumbled on the cave Friday while working on a highway project. The site contained the remains of four humans as well a small pottery vase and an ax.
The find was reported to the local village of Moureze, and the media was informed, with national radio describing it as an "exceptional" find.
Despite all the publicity, Moureze officials allowed the cave to be left unguarded after nightfall and robbers struck between Saturday and Sunday, stealing the artifacts.
After the robbery, another local village, Villeneuvette realized that the site actually fell under its jurisdiction.
"Police were left at the cave during the day, but not at night, and there was an opening which thieves were able to get through," said Villeneuvette Mayor Gerard Maistre.
"They should have done better. If I had been involved (earlier), I would have taken a decision to completely seal off the cave."
Asked if he was considering taking legal action against the neighboring authorities for their lax security, Maistre replied, "We have to consider the matter."
MOUREZE, France. A police officer Monday ropes off the entrance to a cave here containing items and remains dating to the Neolithic period. Reuters PHOTO