Ex-minister’s brother jailed for smuggling Egypt antiquities

A Cairo criminal court sentenced the brother of a former Egyptian finance minister to 30 years in jail on Saturday for smuggling antiquities out of the country, a judicial source said. (File/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 15 February 2020

Ex-minister’s brother jailed for smuggling Egypt antiquities

  • Raouf Ghali, the sibling of Hosni Mubarak-era finance minister Youssef Ghali, was sentenced to 30 years in jail and fined 6 million pounds ($380,000)
  • He had three accomplices, including Italian ex-honorary consul to Egypt Ladislav Skakal

CAIRO: A Cairo criminal court sentenced the brother of a former Egyptian finance minister to 30 years in jail on Saturday for smuggling antiquities out of the country, a judicial source said.
Raouf Ghali, the sibling of Hosni Mubarak-era finance minister Youssef Ghali, was sentenced to 30 years in jail and fined 6 million pounds ($380,000) for his role in trafficking artefacts out of Egypt to Italy.
He had three accomplices, including Italian ex-honorary consul to Egypt Ladislav Skakal, who was sentenced in absentia to 15 years in jail and a million pound fine.
Skakal now faces 30 years imprisonment if apprehended by Egyptian authorities, having previously been sentenced to 15 years in absentia in January as part of the same case.
Egypt has requested that Interpol issue a red notice against the disgraced former honorary consul.
The stolen artefacts included nearly 22,000 golden coins, 151 miniature figurines, five mummy masks, 11 pottery vessels, three ceramic tiles dating to the Islamic period and a wooden sarcophagus.
Italian police discovered the loot in a diplomatic shipping container en route from the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria to Salerno in Italy in 2017.
Egyptian security agencies also uncovered precious pieces hidden in Skakal’s Cairo home and in a bank safety deposit box.
The stolen antiquities were returned to Egypt in cooperation with Italian authorities in 2018.
Also sentenced in the case were two Egyptians, both given 15 years in jail and a million pound fine.
Looting and trafficking of Egypt’s cultural heritage increased during the the popular uprising that ousted former president Mubarak in 2011 and during the years of political turmoil that followed.
Last year, the golden coffin of a Pharaonic priest that had been stolen amid the tumult was unveiled in Cairo after it was repatriated from the United States.
In recent years, Egypt has sought to promote its archaeological heritage in a bid to revive its vital tourism sector.


UN says Libyan sides sign countrywide cease-fire deal

Updated 39 min 55 sec ago

UN says Libyan sides sign countrywide cease-fire deal

  • Libya is split between a UN-supported government in the capital, Tripoli, and rival authorities based in the east
  • Libya’s prized light crude has long featured in the country’s civil war, with rival militias and foreign powers jostling for control of Africa’s largest oil reserves

GENEVA: The United Nations said Friday that the two sides in Libyan military talks had reached a “historic achievement” with a permanent cease-fire agreement across the war-torn North African country.
After mediation this week led by UN envoy for Libya Stephanie Turco Williams, the 5+5 Joint Military Commission reached what the UN called an “important turning point toward peace and stability in Libya.”
Details were not immediately available, but the two sides were taking part in a signing ceremony in Geneva on Friday morning.
Libya is split between a UN-supported government in the capital, Tripoli, and rival authorities based in the east. The two sides are backed by an array of local militias as well as regional and foreign powers. The country was plunged into chaos after the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
“The road to a permanent cease-fire deal was often long and difficult,” Williams, a former US State Department official, said in Arabic at the signing ceremony.
“Before us is a lot of work in the coming days and weeks in order to implement the commitments of the agreement,” she said. “It is essential to continue work as quickly as possible in order to alleviate the many problems due to this conflict facing the Libyan people.”
“We have to give people hope of a better future,” Williams added. She expressed hope the agreement will succeed “in ending the suffering of Libyans and allowing those displaced by the conflict to return to their homes.”
Ali Abushahma, the head of the delegation and a field commander for the UN-supported administration in Tripoli, said: “We have had enough suffering, enough bloodshed ... We hope we will change the suffering on all the territories of Libya, especially in the south.”
“I appeal to all Libya: Be one hand,” he said, warning about polarization by factions.
The meetings this week mark the fourth round of talks involving the Joint Military Commission under Williams’ watch. The Geneva-based military talks come ahead of a political forum in Tunisia in November. That forum aims to “generate consensus on a unified governance framework and arrangements that will lead to the holding of national elections,” the UN mission said.
On Wednesday, Williams had said the two warring factions agreed on issues that “directly impact the lives and welfare of the Libyan people,” citing agreements to open air and land routes in the country, to work to ease inflammatory rhetoric in Libyan media, and to help kickstart Libya’s vital oil industry.
Libya’s prized light crude has long featured in the country’s civil war, with rival militias and foreign powers jostling for control of Africa’s largest oil reserves.
Last month, the two sides reached preliminary agreements to exchange prisoners and open up air and land transit across the country’s divided territory. This breakthrough also accompanied the resumption of oil production after a months-long blockade by powerful tribes allied with military commander Khalifa Haftar, the leader of the eastern-based forces.
Haftar’s forces launched an offensive in April 2019 to try and capture Tripoli, the seat of the UN-supported government in the west. But his campaign collapsed in June.
Fighting has since died down amid international pressure on both sides to avert an attack on the strategic city of Sirte, the gateway to Libya’s major oil export terminals.