Germany returns priceless gold mask to Peru

Peru spent 20 years trying to secure the return of this gold funerary mask from the pre-Columbian Sican culture

Germany has returned a pre-Columbian gold funerary mask to Peru following a 20-year legal and diplomatic battle, the South American country's culture minister said on Thursday.

Peru had reported the eighth century Sican mask's disappearance in 1999, after which it was confiscated by Interpol from the German city of Wiesbaden.

"I'm happy to receive one of the most emblematic assets from the north Peruvian cultures, the Sican Mask," said Patricia Balbuena in a statement.

The mask was handed over to the Peruvian embassy in Berlin by Bavarian authorities.

The Munich regional court ordered the mask be returned to Peru in December 2016 after it had been confiscated by the public prosecutor.

It is due to arrive in Peru in the coming weeks.

Like neighboring Ecuador, which secured the return of 13 pre-Columbian artifacts from a private German collection in July after a six-year legal battle, the South American country has been eager to recover priceless pieces from its cultural heritage.

The Sican culture inhabited the north coast of Peru between the eighth and 14th centuries.