Egyptian businessman, former MP sentenced to prison for trafficking in antiquities

El-Sayed Gamal El-Din , Thursday 21 Apr 2022

A Cairo criminal court sentenced on Thursday well-known businessman Hassan Rateb to five years in prison for funding a criminal operation led by former MP Alaa Hassanin to illegally excavate and traffic in antiquities.

Court of Justice
A view of the High Court of Justice in Cairo, Egypt (Reuters)

The court also sentenced Hassanin and five other accomplices to 10 years in prison each.

Seventeen other defendants in the case were sentenced to five years in prison and an EGP 1 million fine each.

Today's verdicts are not final and can be challenged before the Court of Cassation.

The prosecution accused Rateb of funding Hassanin and others with millions of pounds to excavate antiquities, with the purpose of smuggling them abroad.

Rateb, 74, was arrested on 28 June, four days after Hassanin and others were caught with dozens of artefacts in their possession.

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

Egypt imposes tough penalties on antiquities trafficking, of which there has been a rise since the 2011 revolution.

Illegal archaeological digging, antiquities trafficking, and smuggling offences carry penalties varying from seven years to life imprisonment.

Over the past several years, Egypt has returned hundreds of antiquities that had been looted and smuggled abroad, the latest of which was a shipment of 114 pieces retrieved from France in June 2021.

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