Egypt sentences ex-minister’s brother for artifact smuggling

CAIRO (AP) — An Egyptian court Saturday sentenced the brother of a former finance minister to 30 years after his conviction in two separate cases of trafficking antiquities out of the country.

The Cairo Criminal Court also fined Raouf Boutros-Ghali, who is an actor, 6 million Egyptian pounds ($382,000) after he was convicted of smuggling artifacts to Italy.

Boutros-Ghali is the brother of former finance minister Yousef Boutros-Ghali and a nephew of former U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali.

The court also sentenced three others, including Italian ex-honorary consul to Egypt Ladislav Skakal, to 15 years in prison and a 1 million Egyptian pound fine (more than $63,000) each.

Skakal was sentenced in abstentia and will be retried if arrested. Egypt has asked Interpol to issue a red notice — a request to law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person — against him. Last month Skakal was sentenced to 15 years in a separate case after being convicted on the same charge s.

Saturday’s verdicts can be appealed to a higher court.

The cases dates back to 2017 when Italian police seized parcels filled with artifacts from several countries, including antiquities from Egypt.

The Egyptian artifacts included five burial masks, 11 vessels, 151 small statues and thousands of coins from different eras.

Egyptian authorities have said the artifacts were likely excavated and smuggled out of the country in secret, as no museum has records of them. They were put on display after they were retrieved from Italy in June 2018.

Egypt has drastically stepped up efforts in recent years to stop the trafficking of its antiquities, which flourished in the turmoil following a 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak.

It has warned foreign museums that it will not help them mount exhibits on ancient Egyptian antiquities unless they return smuggled artifacts. The Antiquities Ministry said it has retrieved more than 1,000 artifacts and around 22,000 ancient coins since 2016.

Last year, the ministry displayed a gilded ancient coffin from the 1st Century B.C., which New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art returned after U.S. investigators determined it to be a looted antiquity.

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