The Ethiopian authorities have asked several British museums and libraries to return hundreds of valuable items, including a royal crown, looted by British troops in 1868, reported the British weekly "Independent on Sunday".
Ethiopian President Girma Wolde-Giorgis wrote himself to the British Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the British Library and Cambridge University Library and asked to return some 400 precious objects looted during the Battle of Magdala, the newspaper which has obtained the letter.
"The Ethiopians are long mourn the loss of part of their national heritage. They believe that this act of appropriation has no justification in international law," the Ethiopian President quoted by the weekly.
"The time has come to go to Ethiopia's hidden treasures," he added.
Among the items claimed is a royal crown in gold, some 300 precious manuscripts, many of the Christian Scriptures, as well as cult objects considered sacred. The objects were seized by British troops during the capture of the citadel of Magdala in 1868, the punitive expedition led by Sir Rober Napier after the capture of several British.
The Ethiopian Emperor Theodore II Haillu Kassa (1821-1868) committed suicide after the battle.
British museums are generally opposed to refunds on the grounds that the pieces in museums in Britain are visible to all.
However if the treasures of Magdala are differents because their are historically established that the objects were simply stolen and have been no transactions.
"It was straightforward looting," said the spokesman for the Ethiopian embassy quoted by the weekly.