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A British man and a German man with ancient pottery shards found in their luggage said Sunday at the start of a trial in Iraq that they had no intention of breaking the law, AFP reported.

James Fitton, 66, a retired British geologist, and Volker Waldmann, 60, a Berlin psychologist, appeared dressed in the yellow uniform of detainees for the two-hour hearing at a Baghdad criminal court.

The men were arrested on 20 March at Baghdad airport.

The judge told the accused they were charged under a 2002 law that provides for sentences up to the death penalty for those guilty of "intentionally taking or trying to take out of Iraq an antiquity".

According to statements from customs officers and witnesses, Fitton's baggage contained about a dozen stone fragments, pieces of pottery or ceramics. Waldmann allegedly had two pieces, but denied they were his.

The trial will continue on 22 May.

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