Judges recuse themselves from Hassan Rateb's antiquities trafficking trial

El-Sayed Gamal El-Din , Tuesday 21 Dec 2021

The judges in the Cairo criminal court in charge of trying an antiquities trafficking case, where well-known businessman Hassan Rateb and former MP Alaa Hassanin are defendants, announced on Tuesday that they are recusing themselves due to “discomfort,” without giving further explanation.

Hassan Rateb
Hassan Rateb

In the first hearing, the court announced it was referring the case to the Cairo Court of Appeals so it can be sent to another circuit.

Rateb, who was referred to the criminal court on 12 December, is accused of funding illegal excavations believed to be led by former MP Hassanin, who has also been referred to trial.

Rateb was arrested on 26 January, nearly one week after Hassanin and 17 others were caught in possession of 201 pieces of antiquities in a warehouse in Old Cairo.

The Public Prosecution says that Rateb funded Hassanin, his brother, and the other suspects with millions of pounds to illegally excavate antiquities.

Rateb, 74, the former owner of Al-Mehwar satellite channel, is the chairman of Sinai University, Sama Group, and the Sinai Cement Company.

In 2017, Rateb accused Hassanin of defrauding him of $3 million in commercial transactions, but later withdrew his complaint to the police after Hassanin returned the money, according to local reports.

The unlicensed excavation, theft, damaging, and smuggling of antiquities are punishable by hefty fines and prison sentences of up to 25 years.

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