Stolen 18th-century crown returned to Ethiopia after ‘discovery’ in Europe

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, right, with gloved hands as he officially hands over a crown to the country’s tourism minister, Hirut Kassaw, Thursday (Feb. 20). (Photo: Twitter @AbiyAhmedAli)

Over 20 years after its discovery in the Netherlands, a rare, stolen crown from the 18th century was returned to Ethiopia on Thursday, February 20.

The crown, a ceremonial heirloom belonging to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, is among several other items, including a cross, that went missing from their original home in Cheleqot in 1993. The crown was discovered in Rotterdam in October 2019.

The handover was facilitated by the Dutch Government, a move that Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed welcomed happily.

“Today #Ethiopia receives a precious crown stolen several years ago and taken to the #Netherlands. I am grateful to Sirak Asfaw and the Netherlands government for facilitating its return,” he tweeted.

The Dutch government, in a statement Thursday, said the crown was the property of the Holy Trinity Church in the village of Cheleqot.

For years the crown was in the hands of Sirak Asfaw, a Dutch national of Ethiopian origin, the statement added.

The 18th Century Ethiopian crown has been returned home after being hidden in a Dutch flat for the past 21-years. (Photo: Twitter @AbiyAhmedAli)

On the part of both governments, it is not clear how the crown left Ethiopia or ended up in the Netherlands.

According to Hirut Kassaw, Minister of Culture and Tourism, the crown will be on display at Ethiopia’s national museum in Addis Ababa for a few days, before being returned to its original home in the church in Cheleqot.