Egypt imposes life imprisonment for stealing historical artifacts

Egypt imposes life imprisonment for stealing historical artifacts

MOSCOW, 16 Jan — RIA Novosti. Smuggling or theft of historical artifacts and pieces of the ancient Egyptian monuments outside Egypt will be punished by life imprisonment and a fine up to 500 thousand dollars, reports the newspaper Egypt Today.

“Anyone who tries to remove the historical artifact outside the Republic or to participate in such an act, knowing what he’s doing, could get life prison term and a fine amount of not less than 1 and not more than 10 million Egyptian pounds”, — stated in the decree of the Parliament of Egypt.

“Black” archaeologists and illegal trade in historical artifacts are some of the main enemies of Egypt’s cultural heritage. Each month, law enforcement officers and the archeologists found traces of dozens of illegal excavations, some of which is not for the sale of artifacts, and cemeteries and new houses, and arrested hundreds of similar historical “poachers”.

The situation deteriorated in the beginning of this decade due to the “Arab spring”, the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak and the weakening of police in Egypt, causing Dashur, Valley of the Kings, Giza and many other ancient Egyptian settlements and temple complexes were subjected to a series of mass invasions of these “lovers” of the past.

In some cases, these excavations have led to real scientific discoveries — for example, in October 2014, similar to the “diggers” managed to find a temple complex of the time of Thutmosis III under one of the houses in Cairo, and time to extract from him some of the artifacts before the discovery learned the Ministry of antiquities and the police.

In the past, such crimes were punished by the Egyptian authorities with a prison sentence of up to seven years with compulsory work, and a substantial monetary fine amounting to a minimum of 5 thousand dollars and the maximum about 50 thousand dollars.

In late December, the Egyptian Parliament decided to make the punishment more severe — now “black archeologists” and purveyors of artifacts can go to jail for life and will have to pay the state a fine of up to 500 thousand U.S. dollars.