The public prosecution of southern Cairo on Friday ordered the detention of Alaa Hassanin, a former Parliament member, and 17 “gang members" for four days pending investigation over involvement in the illicit excavation and trade in antiquities, an official statement read.
The prosecution’s decision comes a day after the police discovered former MP Hassanin, who served during the one-year term of late-President Mohamed Morsi, along with 201 antiquities in a warehouse in Old Cairo.
The antiquities included two paintings of a sarcophagus inscribed with hieroglyphs, 36 statues of different lengths, four Ushabti figurines, two wooden statues, an Ushabti with alabaster, two bronze statues and a stone statue that dates back to the Greek era.
The artifacts seized also included 58 coins that date back to the Roman and Greek eras, a pottery bowl and other various antiquities.
The stealing, unlicensed excavation, spoiling and the smuggling of antiquities is punishable by hefty fines and tough prison sentences in Egypt that amount to life imprisonment (25 years in prison).