Láokoón and his sons in the Vatican Museum.
Today, the Vatican Court began dealing with the case of environmental activists from the Ultima Generazione (Last Generation) organization, who, according to the indictment, damaged an ancient Roman statue during a protest. The pair of activists damaged the famous statue of Laocoon and his sons in the Vatican Museums by clinging to it, according to the indictment. They face up to three years in prison or a fine of up to 3,099 euros (over 70,000 crowns), the AP agency writes.
Last August, activist duo Guido Viero and Ester Goffi clung to the base of a statue depicting the Trojan priest Laocoon and his two sons being attacked by sea serpents. According to the official estimate, the sculpture dates from the first century BC. According to the indictment, however, the surface of the marble was damaged when the glue was removed.
“We didn’t want to harm anything,” Viero told the court. According to the activists, the damage was apparently caused by the fact that the museum attendants removed the glue using acetone, and not the agent that the activists had with them. Goffi said that damaging artefacts has always been ruled out at their events.
The head of the Vatican restoration workshop, Guy Devreux, confirmed the irreparable damage to the statue’s base before the court. According to him, the restorers applied paint to the damaged surface so that it had at least the same shade as the rest of the marble sculpture.
Climate activists said they decided to stage the event at the Vatican Museums mainly to gain media attention. “We have to describe the situation to people with the urgency that they deserve,” defendant Viero said.
After today’s opening, the trial will continue in June when the restorers submit their expert report. Devreux told the court that they worked to cover up the damaged surface for about a week, which was less than they had originally estimated.
The group Ultima Generazione, which calls for stricter measures to combat climate change, has organized several protests targeting Roman monuments. Last week, members of the group turned the water in the famous Trevi Fountain black. The restorers said that this monument was not damaged by the activists. However, their actions were criticized by the mayor of Rome Roberto Gualtieri and other politicians.
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