Belgium to return 80 smuggled artifacts to Egypt

A court ruling in Belgium has decided that Egypt is the rightful owner of 80 Egyptian artifacts seized in Brussels Airport in April 2010.

Mohamed Ibrahim, the antiquities minister, said the seized items were found in the possession of an Egyptian woman who was trying to smuggle them inside two fake wooden statues. She was arrested by the airport’s customs officials.

The national museum of Brussels was asked to examine the items and they were proven to be authentic. Interpol in Egypt was notified.

Legal procedures were taken to work with Belgium to ensure that the artifacts were Egyptian and that they were illegally smuggled, the minister added. The Egyptian legislation that criminalizes the trade of antiquities was sent to Brussels.

The court ruling stated the smuggled items should be returned to the Egyptian Embassy in Brussels then to Egypt.

Osama al-Nahhas, director of the recovered monuments department, said the smuggled items are from several Egyptian ages, including prehistoric, pharaonic, Greco-Roman, Coptic and Islamic times. They included 27 scarabs, 13 amulets that date back to the pharaonic age, 11 stone and wooden statues, and a Coptic tapestry.

Translated from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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