Egypt hands heavy prison sentences to former MP for smuggling antiquities
CAIRO (AP) — An Egyptian court sentenced a former member of parliament and others to ten years in prison on Thursday for smuggling antiquities out of the country, as part of a campaign to stop the trade.
Egypt’s state news agency said that former member of parliament Alaa Hassanein and four others would serve 10 years. Hassan Rateb, a prominent businessmen, and 17 others will face five years in prison. All were fined 1 million Egyptian pounds, or $54,000 roughly.
#Egypt : Heavy sentences for former MP & a prominent businessman on charges of smuggling antiquities out of the country-Alaa Hassanein has been sentenced to 10 years, while Hassan Rateb has received 5 year term-21 others also convicted – as well as heavy fines #علاء_حسانين #مِصر pic.twitter.com/cSEQZz5ETC
— sebastian usher (@sebusher) April 21, 2022
Egypt has drastically stepped up efforts in recent years to stop the trafficking of its antiquities, which flourished in the turmoil following a 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak. Often the suspects have been high-profile figures. In 2020, an actor and brother of the country’s former minister of finance Raouf Boutros-Ghali was sentenced to 30 years for smuggling antiques.
The country has in recent years warned foreign museums that it will not help them mount exhibits on ancient Egyptian antiquities unless they return smuggled artifacts. The Antiquities Ministry said it has retrieved more than 1,000 artifacts and around 22,000 ancient coins since 2016.
The state news report did not specify what kind of antiquities were being smuggled — but it said that in some cases the convicted had organized and funded secret excavations. Egypt is still rich in undiscovered ancient sites dating back to the time of the Pharoahs, and its Greek and Roman era.
In ’97 Metropolitan Police’s Art and Antiques Unit prosecuted in UK dealer Jonathan Tokeley-Parry in “Operation Bullrush” for smuggling and selling more than 3K Egyptian #antiquities in London and NY
He said: #Egypt is the most dangerous place on earth for Egyptian antiquities pic.twitter.com/KjOv0R5LQR
— MadLand.Art (@ArtMadland) April 18, 2022
In 2019, the ministry displayed a gilded ancient coffin from the 1st Century B.C., which New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art returned after U.S. investigators determined it to be a looted antiquity.
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