Friday, September 20, 2013

Looted artefacts recovered in sting operation

by Aaron T. Rose

More still missing from Mallawi museum

The Ministry of State for Antiquities announced on Wednesday that it has recovered 13 artefacts recovered from the looted museum in the Minya city of Mallawi.

With the help of the Tourism and Antiquities Police, the ministry was able to recover items that were stolen from the museum after it was attacked by a mob and ransacked during protests on 14 August.

The artefacts were recovered in Giza on 16 September when Essam Al-Sakkat, 36 year-old butcher from Mallawi, attempted to sell the stolen items to an undercover law enforcement agent posing as a buyer, reported the Egypt Independent.  Al-Sakkat was arrested, the first arrest of someone in possession of looted items from the Mallawi museum.

According to the statement by the Antiquities Minister Dr Mohammed Ibrahim, the artefacts recovered include “a statue of Jehuty, the god of wisdom, a group of Terra-cotta statues’ heads made of pottery and limestone in addition to six lanterns and pieces of flint and stone objects.”

Of the 1,050 artefacts stolen, nearly 900 have been recovered, according to Ibrahim. Reports indicate that mummies in the museum were vandalised and burned, and items too big to be carried out of the museum were destroyed.  UNESCO and Interpol both have lists of the missing items to deter black market dealing.

Mallawi is located 300 km south of Cairo in the Minya governate.  Its museum housed items spanning from the Pharaonic era to the Islamic caliphates.

Al-Sakkat has been referred to prosecution after admitting to the charges, reported the Egypt Independent.  He has criminal convictions in cattle theft, drug trafficking and possession of unlicensed weapons.


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