Egypt asks British govt for cooperation to prevent export from Britain of Egyptian artefacts sold by Christies'

Nevine El-Aref , Tuesday 9 Jul 2019

NCAR said it would ask British government for more cooperation in preventing the export from Britain of Egyptian artefacts sold last week by Christies' before documentation of ownership is made available to Egypt

Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany during the meeting
Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany (C) during the NCAR meeting on Monday

In an urgent meeting held on Monday night to discuss measures to be taken after the sale of Egyptian artefacts in the London-based Christie’s Auction House last week against Egypt's request to stop such sale, Egypt’s National Committee for Antiquities Repatriation (NCAR) said it would ask the British government for more cooperation in preventing the export of these artefacts from Britain before documentation of ownership of these artefacts is made available to Egypt.

The committee, which is headed by headed by Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany, includes top officials from Egypt's Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Interior, General-Prosecution Office, Egyptian State Lawsuits Authority, former Minister of Antiquities Zahi Hawass, as well as representatives from concerned security and supervision authorities.

The repatriation committee expressed its deep indignation at "the unprofessional way in which the Egyptian artefacts  were sold without the provision of the ownership documents, and proof that that the artefacts left Egypt in a legitimate manner, till this date."

NCAR also expressed "deep bewilderment that the British authorities failed to provide the support expected from it in this regard."

The committee also decided to assign a British law firm to take all necessary legal procedures to file a civil lawsuit.

The Committee also expressed its appreciation for the decision taken by Egypt’s General-Prosecution to address the International Interpol to issue a circular to track the sale of these artefacts in any country around the world.

Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany during the meeting
Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany at the NCAR meeting

NCAR also asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to issue directives to Egyptian embassies abroad both to monitor and observe these artefacts and notify the Egyptian authorities of their appearance in any country around the world,  and seek to ensure that they are  seized pending inspection and verification of ownership documents.

The committee said it asked the British Government to prevent the export of the Egyptian artefacts from the British territory before the Egyptian authorities are shown ownership documents per the ongoing cooperation between both countries in the field of archaeology, especially that there are 18 British archaeological missions currently working in Egypt.

Earlier last month, following the announcement of the sale of Egyptian artefacts in Cristies' Auction Hall in London, both Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities and Ministry Foreign Affairs, in coordination with the Egyptian Embassy in London, asked Christies', the UNESCO, as well as the office of Britain's Foreign Affairs to stop the sale of these pieces pending verification of ownership documents and the legitimacy of the way these pieces left Egypt, in addition to demanding that Egypt's right to repatriate these artefacts under all current and past Egyptian laws be recognized.

NCAR explained that Egypt had asked the British authorities to impound these Egyptian artefacts pending verification of ownership documents. It said Egypt also asked Christies' to provide documents showing proof of ownership of these pieces. 

Egypt's Prosecutor-General also send a rogatory to his counterpart in London in this regard.

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