By Tom Westcott.
2 December, 2014:
A bronze statue of two lions fighting each other has been removed from a central Tripoli park for . . .[restrict]safekeeping and has not been stolen, unlike other artefacts in the capital, heritage authorities today confirmed.
Earlier, there had been reports on social media that the statue had been taken by Islamists, following the disappearance of the Ghazala and Omar Mukhtar statues last month.
“The statue has not been stolen but has been removed for safekeeping,” head of research in the Department of Archaeology Mustafa Turjman told the Libya Herald. He explained the removal of the statue from the small park next to the Foreign Ministry in Zawiyat Dahmani was both authorised and organised by the Department of Antiquities.
It had been secured and stored in a safe place, he said, describing the move as a positive step in preserving the capital’s heritage.
The Italian-era statue was originally located in Martyrs Square, but was moved when Qaddafi decided to enlarge the square, demolishing several buildings to achieve this.
Once in the Zawiyat Dahmani park, although quite difficult to see from the road, the statue became a popular local landmark and one much loved by locals. A senior official from the Historic Buildings Association said that, after the revolution, plans were put forward to relocate the lions to a more prominent place but local people intervened and insisted the statue should remain in the park.
The Department of Antiquities today confirmed that there was still no information about the fate of the Ghazala and Omar Mukhtar statues. [/restrict]