Egypt recovers 26 ancient artefacts smuggled to Spain in 2014

Ahram Online , Monday 20 Dec 2021

Egypt retrieved on Monday 36 artefacts that had been smuggled to Spain in 2014, according to a statement by the Egyptian general prosecution.

Hamada El-Sawy
Egypt s Prosecutor-General Hamada El-Sawy.

An Egyptian delegation travelled to Madrid earlier this week to retrieve the artefacts after a Spanish court ruled they should be returned to Egypt.

The artefacts had been smuggled from the Mediterranean city of Alexandria to Spain’s Valencia by six suspects. 

The defendants have been given jail terms by an Egyptian criminal court  for smuggling artefacts abroad and forging official documents, the prosecution added. 

The statement did not provide details on the nature of the artefacts, though photos posted the prosecution's official Facebook page suggest they are ancient Egyptian in origin.

Egypt has been working to repatriate thousands of its artefacts that have been smuggled out of the country after being unearthed in illegal excavations. 

Artefacts theft increased after the 2011 uprising that toppled late President Hosni Mubarak, the aftermath of which saw a security vacuum nationwide.

Around 30,000 smuggled artefacts have been retrieved by authorities since 2011, including 5,300 this year, the general supervisor of the Repatriation Antiquities Department Shaaban Abdel-Gawad said earlier this week. 

Egypt has pushed to toughen penalties for smuggling artefacts.

Lawmakers approved last year the addition of a new article to the law on protecting antiquities, stipulating that those illegally possessing or selling antiquities face imprisonment and a fine of EGP 1 million to EGP 10 million.

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