CAIRO: A former member of Egypt’s parliament was sentenced to ten years in prison on Thursday for smuggling antiquities out of the country, along with four others, the state news agency reported.
Former MP Alaa Hassanein and four others were given the 10-year sentence, while Hassan Rateb, a prominent businessmen, and 17 others face five years in prison, with all being fined 1 million Egyptian pounds ($54,000).
The report did not specify what kind of antiquities were being smuggled — but said that in some cases the convicted had organized and funded “secret excavations.”
Egypt is still rich in undiscovered ancient sites dating back to the time of the Pharoahs, and its Greek and Roman era.
The country has in recent years warned foreign museums that it will not help them mount exhibits on ancient Egyptian antiquities unless they return smuggled artifacts. The Antiquities Ministry said it has retrieved more than 1,000 artifacts and around 22,000 ancient coins since 2016.
In 2019, the ministry displayed a gilded ancient coffin from the 1st Century B.C., which New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art returned after US investigators determined it to be a looted antiquity.
* With AP