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Egypt Recovers 114 Smuggled Artifacts from France

Egypt Recovers 114 Smuggled Artifacts from France

Wednesday, 30 June, 2021 - 07:30
The Gold Coffin of Nedjemankh is displayed during a news conference to announce its return, Cairo, Egypt October 1, 2019. Credit: \ AMR ABDALLAH DALSH/ REUTERS

The Egyptian authorities recently announced the recovery of 114 smuggled artifacts from France, which arrived in Cairo on Sunday, accompanied by Hamada Al-Sawy, Egypt's public prosecutor, and other officials from the ministry of tourism and antiquities.

The Egyptian delegation oversaw the shipment procedures of the recovered artifacts until they arrived in the country.

The investigations of the Egyptian public prosecution in the case of smuggled antiquities started in 2019, after a French citizen informed the Egyptian Embassy in Paris that a dead French man kept the illegally smuggled artifacts in his apartment.

The embassy notified the general prosecution in Cairo and an investigation was launched in cooperation with the French authorities. The French man who reported the smuggled artifacts, and two Egyptians, who were involved in the smuggling and knew the dead man were arrested, interrogated, and charged. The collaboration between the two countries led to seizing the artifacts and retuning them to Egypt.

"The investigations are ongoing to know how these artifacts were smuggled, and identify those who were involved," said a statement by the general prosecution on June 27.

The general prosecutor ordered to hand the recovered artifacts over to the technical committee formed by the ministry of tourism and antiquities for examination, and in order to determine the historic eras they belong to.

The prosecutor, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, and head of the antiquities department traveled to France, last week, to finish the recovery procedures.

The artifacts date to pre-historic ages, the modern state, and the Greek, Roman, and Coptic eras.

They include potteries, pieces made of wood and alabaster, a collection of funerary statues, faience necklaces, some cartonnage, and an amazing statue known as "the soul" in ancient Egypt, as well as a statue of God Ptah, a collection of small coffins including the mummy of God Horus, and a small statue of King Amenhotep III with engraved hieroglyphs reading "Master of Justice Ra," considered the most valuable piece in the whole collection according to local officials.

The Egyptian law criminalizes the trade and smuggling of antiquities. Those who form a smuggling group, manage it, or even join one in order to steal or smuggle artifacts could face a life sentence.

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