Are the artefact collections at the presidential palaces safe?

Nevine El-Aref , Monday 20 Jun 2011

The precious artefact collections exhibited at the presidential palaces are safe and sound according to the committee assigned by the Ministry of State for Antiquities

montaza palace

Today, following almost a month of comprehensive inventorying, the archaeological committee of the Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA) asserted that no artefacts had been stolen from the presidential palaces in Cairo and Alexandria, refuting a report submitted to the prosecutor-general claiming that the family of ousted president Hosni Mubarak had stolen some of the ancient works exhibited in the presidential homes.

Mahmoud Abbas, head of the archaeological committee, asserted that after inspecting the contents of 18 presidential palaces in Cairo, Alexandria, Marsa Matrouh, Ismailiya and Aswan, the committee found all their contents to match the MSA’s official inventory documents. As for the presidential rest houses, Abbas stated that they do not house any genuine artefacts, only luxurious modern furniture.

Abbas explained that the juridical committee assigned by Minister of Justice Abdel Aziz El-Guindy, which includes representatives from the armed forces, the plastic art section of the ministry of culture, the central auditing organisation and the central agency for organization and administration, has yet to complete its inventories and submit them to the minister of justice and the prosecutor general. Following the completion of the inventories carried out by both committees, the prosecutor general will conduct an investigation to determine whether former president Mubarak and his family will be charged with abusing the artefacts on display at the presidential palaces.

The issue was raised late last month when renowned poet Farouk Gouweda wrote a column in the daily Al-Ahram newspaper claiming that artefacts exhibited in presidential palaces were stolen when the chaos reigned across Egypt during the January 25 revolution. Gouweda said that he did not accuse the MSA of negligence, since these artefacts were in the possession of the presidency. He asserted that he will not be responding to any questions and that the results of the current investigations will be the final word on the subject.

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