A Paris court Friday rejected an attempt by Hopi
Indians living in the US state of Arizona to stop an auction of masks
they regard as sacred objects.
"The court recognized the sacred character of the objects but nevertheless rejected the petition because human bodies are the only items that may not be sold in France," lawyer Pierre Servan-Schreiber said.
The ruling allowed the sale of 70 masks Friday by the Hotel Drouot auction house, said Servan-Schreiber, the attorney for the indigenous group.
The Hopi Indians argued that the masks were sacred objects and part of their cultural heritage.
In a final attempt to block their sale, Servan-Schreiber turned to the Conseil des Ventes, an advisory body for auction houses that gives approvals for the hammer to fall. He said he asked for the auction to be halted, but he said he believed success was unlikely.
The Hopi people number about 18,000 and live primarily on government-established reservation land in north-eastern Arizona.
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