A Gift From The Gods

A Gift From The Gods
Photo By Nicole N, Belgium

Friday, February 6, 2009

Egyptian Antiquities Smugglers Caught!


Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni announced that Interpol apprehended antiquities trader Ali Aboutaam. Aboutaam was accused of smuggling Egyptian antiquities out of their homeland.
Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), said that Aboutaam is a Lebanese trader who owns an antiquities dealership and lives in Geneva, Switzerland. He was convicted in the well known antiquities smuggling case of Tarek El-Seweissi, who was caught in 2003 by the Egyptian Police and convicted of stealing and smuggling Egyptian antiquities.

El-Seweissi, in collaboration with Aboutaam, smuggled 280 artifacts out of the country by packing some of them as glass bottles and hiding the others in large boxes of children’s toys and electronics, all labeled with name of a well known international exporting company.
Dr. Hawass added that investigations carried out by General Prosecution in Egypt revealed that Aboutaam helped El-Seweissi to smuggle these artifacts out of the country. He was the eighth criminal to be convicted in such a case, but was still at large until yesterday when Interpol caught him in Bulgaria. In April 2004, the Criminal Court in Egypt sentenced him in absentia to 15 years in prison and a fine of LE 50,000.

In collaboration with the General Prosecution, the SCA was able to retrieve 1000 objects from Switzerland and Britain that had been smuggled out of the country. Three years ago, the FBI told Dr. Hawass, who was there to receive one of three reliefs of the Akhmim which were stolen by another convicted smuggler, about Aboutaam’s illegal activities.
Dr. Hawass asserted that catching Aboutaam is a concrete step towards stopping the trade in illegal antiquities around the world.

Since 2002, Egypt has succeeded in recovering 5000 stolen and smuggled antiquities. Great Job!

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