Egyptian judge faces trial for illegal possession of hundreds of artefacts

Ahram Online , Wednesday 2 Feb 2022

Egypt’s Public Prosecution has referred a judge and his wife to trial after 1,503 historical artefacts were discovered in their apartment in the upscale Cairo neighbourhood of Zamalek.

A large quantity of ancient artefacts and rare jewelry were found in a Zamalek apartment owned by judge Ahmed Abdel-Fattah in May last year (Ahram)

The defendants face charges of trading in antiquities and illegally possessing artefacts.

The artefacts date back to the ancient Egyptian and Islamic eras as well as the Mohamed Ali dynasty, the prosecution said in a statement on Wednesday, adding that the defendants were in possession of 119 artefacts from Egypt’s khedival period.

Mohamed Ali Pasha was the Albanian de facto ruler of Egypt between 1805 and 1848 after the French occupation under Napoleon.

The seized pieces were not registered with the Supreme Council of Antiquities, which is in charge of “protecting Egyptian heritage,” the prosecution said.

The defendant

The case dates back to May when police found a large quantity of ancient artefacts and rare jewelry in a Zamalek apartment owned by judge Ahmed Abdel-Fattah while executing an unrelated warrant against his son, Karim.

The accused judge, who works in Kuwait, is the son of Abdel-Fattah Hassan, a former interior minister under King Farouk, the ruler of Egypt between 1936 and 1952 and the last ruler from Mohamed Ali's family.

In a statement circulated by local media at the time, Abdel-Fattah asserted that he had inherited the artefacts from his family.

According to Egyptian law, anyone who comes in possession of ancient artefacts must inform the relevant authorities within 48 hours.

Some media outlets have published photos of the seized items, which include rare paintings, jewelry, boxes inlaid with precious jewels, and other artefacts. Located on 20 Mansour Mohamed St., the apartment has been sequestrated and placed under supervision of the prosecution.

Renowned lawyer Khaled Abu Bakr is representing Abel-Fattah in the case. Abu Bakr led the negotiating committee on behalf of the Suez Canal Authority last year in the case of the Ever Given incident, where the giant container vessel ran aground in the Suez Canal and caused the international trade route to lose billions in revenues.

The prosecution said in its Wednesday statement that it has ordered the release of Abdel-Fattah on EGP 1 million bail, while assuring that the decision was in no way influenced by the defendant’s job.

The prosecution has also ordered the arrest of Abdel-Fattah’s wife, who is a fugitive inside the country. Both defendants have been placed on the travel ban list, the statement said.

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