JAKARTA – The customs authorities of the Indonesian island of Bali have seized 24 human skulls that were going to be sent to the Netherlands by post, officials said on Friday.
In a statement to the media, Himawan Indarjono, customs chief of Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport, said an Indonesian resident of Denpasar, the capital of the province, identified by police as “R” was suspected of being behind the incident.
The suspect, who has not yet been charged, tried to send the skulls, decorated with tribal motifs and packed in cardboard boxes, in two batches (on Jan. 11 and Jan. 18).
The customs officials detected the skulls when the boxes were scanned by an x-ray machine.
The authorities were trying to determine the origin and age of the human remains, which are carved with symmetrical patterns and some of which are decorated with horns and dyes.
The remains are being kept in the Institute for Preservation of Cultural Heritage in Bali for analysis, although the police say they could have come from the islands of Borneo or New Guinea.
In November, the police in the Indonesian province of Papua arrested two people, including a German man, for trying to send three human skulls by air to the island of Sulawesi.