December 15, 2011 / 12:25 AM / 8 years ago

New York's U.S. attorney returns smuggled dinnerware to Iraq

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Now that President Barack Obama has declared the war over in Iraq, it’s time the country got its tableware back. And the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York is happy to handle the job.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said on Wednesday that his office became aware last month that dinner and salad plates once owned by Saddam Hussein had been smuggled into the United States and were subsequently sold on Ebay.

Along with the plates, the smugglers had sold stolen china that dates back to the pre-Hussein royal family of Iraqi King Faisal II.

The U.S. Marshals Service tracked the plates and china to Park Avenue Autumn, a Manhattan restaurant, where they were being used in an art exhibit by the dinnerware’s new owners, Creative Time, a nonprofit arts organization.

Bharara said once Creative Time was told about the illegal nature of the plates, it agreed to hand them over to his office.

Justice Department personnel on Tuesday delivered the plates to the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Iraq to the United Nations.

Reporting by Joseph Schuman; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Jerry Norton

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