France detains five over alleged Mideast antique trafficking

A judicial source said five people have been detained for questioning on the case. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 23 June 2020

France detains five over alleged Mideast antique trafficking

  • Antiques worth tens of millions of euros are thought to have been taken from countries including Libya, Syria, Egypt and Yemen

PARIS: Five people suspected of participating in an antiques smuggling ring exploiting conflict and unrest in Middle Eastern countries to spirit out works for sale in France have been detained for questioning in Paris, a judicial source said Tuesday.
A preliminary inquiry was opened by French anti-trafficking and fraud agents in July 2018 into an alleged network involving art dealers, antique experts and museum curators, the source said, confirming a report by RTL radio.
Antiques worth tens of millions of euros are thought to have been taken from countries including Libya, Syria, Egypt and Yemen, often through the renowned Pierre Berge auction house based in Paris, a source close to the inquiry told AFP.
The initial findings were transferred to investigating magistrates in Paris last February.
A Pierre Berge director and in-house expert, as well as a former curator at the Louvre museum, are among those being questioned, the source said.
The potentially face charges of receipt of stolen goods, money laundering, forgery and fraud.


Malaysia’s king rejects PM Muhyiddin’s request for emergency rule

Updated 25 October 2020

Malaysia’s king rejects PM Muhyiddin’s request for emergency rule

  • Critics say Muhyiddin Yassin’s request for emergency rule is an attempt by the premier to stay in power amid a leadership challenge

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s King Al-Sultan Abdullah rejected on Sunday a proposal by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin for him to declare a state of emergency in response to the coronavirus crisis, saying that he did not see the need.
Critics say Muhyiddin’s request for emergency rule, which would include suspending parliament, is an attempt by the premier to stay in power amid a leadership challenge.
Malaysia is seeing a resurgence in virus infections and on Saturday reported its biggest daily jump in cases with 1,228 new cases.
The palace said Muhyiddin made the request for emergency rule to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, but that the government has been handling the crisis well.
“Al-Sultan Abdullah is of the opinion that there is no need at the moment for His Majesty to declare an emergency in the country or in any part of the country of Malaysia,” the palace said in a statement.
“His Majesty is confident in the ability of the government under the leadership of the Prime Minister to continue to implement policies and enforcement efforts to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The king’s decision came after a meeting with other senior royals in the country.
The constitution gives the king the right to decide if an emergency should be declared, based on threats to security, economy or public order.
Muhyiddin has been in a precarious position since he took office in March with a two-seat majority. Uncertainties deepened after opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said last month he had the parliamentary majority to form a new government.