Egypt arrests former lawmaker for smuggling antiquities | Inquirer News
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Egypt arrests former lawmaker for smuggling antiquities

/ 06:31 AM June 25, 2021
Egypt arrests former lawmaker for smuggling antiquities

FILE PHOTO: Tourists hire camel guides, some mask-clad, near the Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops) at the Giza Pyramids necropolis on the southwestern outskirts of the Egyptian capital Cairo on July 1, 2020, as the archaeological site reopens while the country eases restrictions put in place due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Khaled DESOUKI / AFP)

CairoEgypt Egyptian police arrested Thursday a former lawmaker and others on charges of illegal excavation and smuggling of 201 Pharaonic, Greek and Roman artifacts, an interior ministry statement said.

Security agencies “arrested a criminal gang headed by a person, who was previously charged in four cases, for illegally excavating sites nationwide… with the aim of smuggling and selling antiquities,” it said.

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A 5-minute video accompanying the statement listed the looted relics found in the men’s possession including “two wooden tablets engraved with hieroglyphics, 36 different statues of various lengths… 52 copper coins believed to be from the Greek and Roman periods… three black basalt plates.”

The flamboyant ex-MP, who was a member of former autocrat Hosni Mubarak’s now-dissolved party, had appeared in local media claiming to have dabbled in black magic and exorcisms.

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Smuggling antiquities in Egypt carries a life imprisonment sentence and hefty fines.

On Wednesday, Egypt’s public prosecutor said in a statement that Cairo recovered nearly 115 stolen artifacts from Paris after a two-year operation collaborating with French judicial authorities.

Although the statement did not specify the full contents of the trove, an accompanying 15-minute video showed Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities chief Mostafa Waziri explaining some of the artifacts dating back to “the ancient Egyptian civilization across various periods.”

These included Pharaonic busts, a gold-tinged statuette of Amenhotep III, and a small colorful golden coffin of the ancient sky god Horus, as well as pottery.

Cairo has announced several major new archaeological discoveries in recent years, hoping to revive a vital tourism sector battered by a 2011 uprising, insurgent attacks, and the coronavirus pandemic.

Egyptian authorities regularly unveil new discoveries and finds, sometimes without waiting for opinions and scientific analysis from archaeologists and experts.

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TAGS: antiquities, archaeology, artifacts, Crime, Egypt, Police, Smuggling
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