Malawi antiquities thief caught red-handed in Giza

Nevine El-Aref , Tuesday 24 Sep 2013

Police continue campaign to recover objects stolen during Malawi National Museum looting last month; antiquities dealer linked to crime caught in Giza

collection of the objects recovered

Egypt's Tourism and Antiquities Police caught an antiquities thief red-handed on Tuesday as he attempted to sell a collection of 13 ancient Egyptian and Greco-Roman objects in Giza.

Preliminary studies of the confiscated objects reveal that they belong to the Malawi National Museum, from which they were reported missing after the museum was looted last month.

The museum, located in Upper Egypt, was ransacked during the violence that erupted in Minya and across the country following the dispersal of two pro-Morsi sit-ins in Giza and Cairo.

Only large, heavy objects that the thieves were unable to transport remained in the museum following the attack.

Central administration for confiscated antiquities head Youssef Khalifa said that the thief was taken into custody pending investigations and that the stolen objects have been confiscated.

The looted treasures include a statue of the goddess of wisdom Hathor, a collection of terracotta (burned clay) heads of different Greek deities and nobles, clay and sandstone statues, and lamps and tools carved from stone.

Antiquities minister Mohamed Ibrahim told Ahram Online that this is the first Malawi Museum thief to be caught in the act, indicating that the police are closely following the case.

Ibrahim hopes that the other accomplices to this crime will soon be caught, and that the missing artifacts are recovered.  The antiquities ministry has already retrieved some 457 of the 1049 objects reported stolen from the museum, Ibrahim added.

The recovered objects include 25 gold coins, a collection of 125 statues carved from different materials, and a large collection of papyri, pots, and pans.

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