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Peru may extradite Greenpeace activists over Nazca Lines damage

Peru may seek to extradite the Greenpeace members accused of causing “irreparable” damage to the Nazca Lines world heritage site in a botched environmental protest.

The activists left behind an ineradicable trail of footprints in the delicate desert surface near the huge, iconic figure of a hummingbird, mysteriously etched into the white sand and preserved for more than 1,500 years.

Last week a Peruvian judge rejected prosecutors’ request to keep the suspects in the country to face questioning, citing incomplete information.

Diana Alvarez-Calderon, the Peruvian culture minister, said last night that the authorities will keep trying to hold the activists accountable for the damage, which has scandalised archaeologists.

“The damage caused is irreparable,” Ms Alvarez-Calderon said at a news conference. “We have to continue the process when a person is not in Peru – extradition if the judge decides so, or civil reparation.”

Peruvian officials have said they would seek charges for “attacking archaeological monuments,” a crime punishable by up to six years in prison.

Greenpeace apologized for the stunt last week and said it would take responsibility for the consequences of its actions. Activists from Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Spain, Germany, Italy and Austria took part.

Last night Ms Alvarez-Calderon accused Greenpeace of failing to hand over the names of those involved in the stunt.

“[Peru] hasn’t obtained what it would have liked to obtain: names, passports, addresses,” said the culture minister.

“What Greenpeace’s representative says is that they want to conduct an investigation that will last about a month because they are going to look into 27 affiliates. They want to know who produced the idea for the event, who organised it and who went to it.”

The activists entered a strictly prohibited area and laid big yellow cloth letters reading: “Time for Change; The Future is Renewable”, a message to delegates at last week’s UN climate talks in Lima. They said after initial criticism that they were “absolutely careful” not to disturb anything.

But Peruvian officials say that no one – not even presidents and Cabinet ministers – is allowed where the activists trod unless they have authorisation, and then they must wear special shoes.

“They created a line that wasn’t there before,” said Luis Jaime Castillo, the deputy culture minister.

The ancient Nazcan culture created the lines by scraping away the desert’s dark iron-oxide pebbles to uncover white soil beneath, which hardened as limestone melded with morning dew.

The huge figures depict living creatures, stylised plants and imaginary figures scratched on the surface of the ground over a period of centuries between 1,500 and 2,000 years ago.

No one knows for sure why the forms were drawn so large, or for so long, making them one of the world’s archaeological enigmas. They are believed to have had ritual astronomical functions.

Peru may seek to extradite the Greenpeace members accused of causing “irreparable” damage to the Nazca Lines world heritage site in a botched environmental protest.

The activists left behind an ineradicable trail of footprints in the delicate desert surface near the huge, iconic figure of a hummingbird, mysteriously etched into the white sand and preserved for more than 1,500 years.

Last week a Peruvian judge rejected prosecutors’ request to keep the suspects in the country to face questioning, citing incomplete information.

Diana Alvarez-Calderon, the Peruvian culture minister, said last night that the authorities will keep trying to hold the activists accountable for the damage, which has scandalised archaeologists.

“The damage caused is irreparable,” Ms Alvarez-Calderon said at a news conference. “We have to continue the process when a person is not in Peru – extradition if the judge decides so, or civil reparation.”

Peruvian officials have said they would seek charges for “attacking archaeological monuments,” a crime punishable by up to six years in prison.

Greenpeace apologized for the stunt last week and said it would take responsibility for the consequences of its actions. Activists from Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Spain, Germany, Italy and Austria took part.

Last night Ms Alvarez-Calderon accused Greenpeace of failing to hand over the names of those involved in the stunt.

“[Peru] hasn’t obtained what it would have liked to obtain: names, passports, addresses,” said the culture minister.

“What Greenpeace’s representative says is that they want to conduct an investigation that will last about a month because they are going to look into 27 affiliates. They want to know who produced the idea for the event, who organised it and who went to it.”

The activists entered a strictly prohibited area and laid big yellow cloth letters reading: “Time for Change; The Future is Renewable”, a message to delegates at last week’s UN climate talks in Lima. They said after initial criticism that they were “absolutely careful” not to disturb anything.

But Peruvian officials say that no one – not even presidents and Cabinet ministers – is allowed where the activists trod unless they have authorisation, and then they must wear special shoes.

“They created a line that wasn’t there before,” said Luis Jaime Castillo, the deputy culture minister.

The ancient Nazcan culture created the lines by scraping away the desert’s dark iron-oxide pebbles to uncover white soil beneath, which hardened as limestone melded with morning dew.

The huge figures depict living creatures, stylised plants and imaginary figures scratched on the surface of the ground over a period of centuries between 1,500 and 2,000 years ago.

No one knows for sure why the forms were drawn so large, or for so long, making them one of the world’s archaeological enigmas. They are believed to have had ritual astronomical functions.