Egyptian antiquity smugglers jailed

Over a dozen people were jailed by an Egyptian court for smuggling antiquities out of the country, according to judicial sources.

    Smuggling Egyptian antiquities can lead to 10 year prison sentences

    The 14 smugglers, including two police officers, were given sentences on Monday of between two and 10 years for illegally exporting more than 300 antiquities out of the country.
      
    State security employees were handed the most severe penalties when the court in Alexandria handed the city's airport police chief a seven-year term and another officer 10 years.
      
    The defendants were found guilty of a smuggling spree in 2000 when pieces dating back to the Pharaonic, Byzantine, Roman and Islamic periods were whisked out of the country.
      
    Police last week arrested a French architect arrested on suspicion of taking Pharaonic era antiquities out of the country.

    French archaeologist arrest

    Last Tuesday, a court ordered a French archaeologist to be held for 45 days while police investigate whether he was removing antiquities from an underwater excavation, according to police.

    Stephane Rousseau was part of a French team salvaging relics from waters off the Egyptian port city of Alexandria.

    He was arrested on Sunday when custom officials at the Alexandria airport found some 50 artifacts, including ushebtis, small statues from ancient tombs, and 144 coins from the Roman, Greek, Byzantine and early Islamic times in his baggage, police said.

    Rousseau told police at the airport that he was a tourist and that he had purchased the objects from shops in Egypt, police said.

    After investigators discovered his connection with the underwater archaeological project, they ordered an inventory of the French expedition's Alexandria warehouse.
      
    Rousseau insists he bought them thinking they were copies and not authentic.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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