Egypt asks Interpol to trace Tutankhamun mask over ownership docs

Laetitia Delaloye, head of antiquities of Christie's, poses for a photograph with an Egyptian brown quartzite head of the God Amen prior to its' sale at Christie's auction house in London on July 4, 2019. (REUTERS/Peter Nicholls)
Updated 09 July 2019
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Egypt asks Interpol to trace Tutankhamun mask over ownership docs

CAIRO: Egypt has asked international police agency Interpol to track down a 3,000-year-old Tutankhamun artefact that was sold in London for $6 million despite fierce opposition from Cairo, government officials said.
Christie’s auction house sold the 28.5-centimeter (11-inch) relic for £4,746,250 ($5,970,000, 5,290,000 euros) to an unknown buyer in early July at one of its most controversial auctions in years.
But less than a week after the sale, Egypt’s National Committee for Antiquities Repatriation (NCAR) said after an urgent meeting that national prosecutors had asked Interpol “to issue a circular to trace” such artefacts over alleged missing paperwork.
“The committee expresses its deep discontent of the unprofessional behavior of the sale of Egyptian antiquities without providing the ownership documents and the evidences that prove its legal export from Egypt,” the NCAR said in a statement.
The committee — headed by Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany and attended by his predecessor Zahi Hawass as well as officials from various ministries — also called upon Britain to “prohibit the export of the sold artefacts” until the Egyptian authorities were shown the documents.
It suggested the issue could have an impact on cultural relations, by referencing “the ongoing cooperation between both countries in the field of archaeology, especially that there are 18 British archaeological missions are working in Egypt.”
The NCAR added it had hired a British law firm to file a “civil lawsuit” although no further details were given.


The London sale of the head of “Boy King” Tutankhamun angered Egyptian officials at the time and sparked a protest outside Christie’s by about a dozen people who held up signs reading “stop trading in smuggled antiquities.”
Hawass told AFP that the piece appeared to have been “stolen” in the 1970s from the Karnak Temple complex just north of Luxor and the Egyptian foreign ministry asked the UK Foreign Office and the UN cultural body UNESCO to step in and halt the sale.
But such interventions are rare and made only when there is clear evidence of the item’s legitimate acquisition by the seller being in dispute.
Christie’s argued that Egypt had never before expressed the same level of concern about an item whose existence has been “well known and exhibited publicly” for many years.
“The object is not, and has not been, the subject of an investigation,” Christie’s said in a statement to AFP.
The auction house has published a chronology of how the relic changed hands between European art dealers over the past 50 years and told AFP that it would “not sell any work where there isn’t clear title of ownership.”
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Sudan is heading in the right direction but much work remains, says US envoy

US is working with other governments in the region to build support for the transitional process in Sudan. (Reuters)
Updated 24 July 2019
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Sudan is heading in the right direction but much work remains, says US envoy

CHICAGO: US Special Envoy for Sudan Donald E. Booth on Tuesday said that leaders of the military government and the opposition in the African nation are moving toward a reconciliation, but added “there is a lot” that still needs to be done.
Booth, who was appointed by President Donald Trump in June, is charged with leading the US efforts to support a political solution to the current crisis that reflects the will of the Sudanese people.
Both sides in Sudan agreed a political power-sharing deal on July 17 that set out a 39-month period of transition, led by Sudan’s new “Sovereign Council,” before constitutional changes can be made. Under the agreement, a military general will lead the council for the first 21 months, a civilian for the following 18 months, and then elections will be held.
“That political declaration really addresses the structure of a transitional government and not the entire structure,” Booth said. “(The July 17 agreement) has put off the question of the legislative council. It is a document that is the beginning of a process. We welcome the agreement on that but there are still a lot of negotiations to be conducted on what the Sudanese call their constitutional declaration.”
The envoy said he expects the Sovereign Council “will have to address what the functions of the different parts of the transitional government will be,” such as the roles and powers of “the sovereign council, the prime minister, the cabinet and, ultimately, the legislative cabinet. Who will lead that transitional government is still undecided.”
The crisis in Sudan came to a head in December 2018 when President Omar Al-Bashir imposed emergency austerity measures that prompted widespread public protests.
He was overthrown by the Sudanese military in April 2018 as a result of the unrest but the protests continued. Demonstrations in Khartoum turned violent on June 3 when 150 civilians were killed, sparking nationwide protests in which nearly a million people took part.
Booth said these protests had changed the dynamics in Sudan, forcing the military to negotiate with the people.
“The 3rd of June was a signal of the limits of people power,” he said. “But then there was the 30th of June, in which close to a million people took to the streets outside of Sudan and I think that demonstrated the limits of the military power over the people.”
Some have asked whether individuals might face prosecution for past human-rights violations, including Lt. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, better known as Gen. Hemeti, who was appointed head of the ruling transitional military council in April after Al-Bashir was removed from power. Booth said this would be a decision for the new transitional government.
“One has to recognize that General Hemeti is a powerful figure currently in Sudan,” he said. “He has considerable forces loyal to him. He has significant economic assets as well. So, he has been a prominent member of this transitional military council. But he has been one of the chief negotiators for the forces of Freedom and Change.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Both sides in Sudan agreed on a political power-sharing deal on July 17 that set out a 39-month period of transition, led by Sudan’s new ‘Sovereign Council,’ before constitutional changes can be made.

• Under the agreement, a military general will lead the council for the first 21 months, a civilian for the following 18 months, and then elections will be held.

• We will have to wait and see what type of agreement Sudanese will come up with, says US envoy.

“We will have to wait and see what type of agreement they will come up with…we don’t want to prejudge where the Sudanese will come out on that. It is their country and their decision on how they move forward. Our goal is to support the desire for a truly civilian-led transition.”
Booth noted that although sanctions on Sudan have been lifted, the designation of the nation as a state sponsor of terrorism remains in force. He also said he expects the pressures and restrictions on journalists covering Sudan’s transition to ease as progress continues toward redefining Sudan’s government.
“As you can see, there is still a lot that the Sudanese need to do,” said Booth. “But we fully support the desire of the Sudanese people to have a civilian-led transitional government that will tackle the issues of constitutional revision and organizing elections, free and fair democratic elections, at the end of the transitional period.”
He added that the US is working with other governments in the region to build support for the transitional process, including expanded religious freedoms, an end to the recruitment of children for military service, and improving Sudan’s economy.
“I think it is important we give the Sudanese space to negotiate with each other, and to continue to express our support to get to the civilian-led transition government that will be broadly supported by the Sudanese people,” said Booth.