Wednesday, 13 June 2012

The Human Consequences of Collecting: Luxor Looters get Life


Collectors who pump comparatively large sums of money into the no-questions-asked antiquities market, and for their personal entertainment, greed and status-enhancement buy dugup artefacts without a care for where they come from, deny any responsibility for the consequences for others of what they do. They deny responsibility for the destruction of sites, they deny responsibility of people being tempted to commit culture-crime by the easy money looting afford in the current state of the international market.

On 19 March of last year, an armed group attacked the stores of the Amenhotep III Temple mission in Qurna, west of Luxor. They wounded three guards, smashed the doors of the store and stole an ancient Egyptian statue made of black granite and another of the lion-headed goddess Sekhmet.

Initially, a military court had sentenced the 10 defendants involved, including five at large, to a prison sentence of 25 years. It acquitted one of the defendants, Hassan Mahmoud, who had been accused of driving the car used in the robbery.

The verdict was overturned by the Supreme Military Court accepting an appeal submitted in December by the defendants’ lawyer and it ordered a retrial. The military court, considering the case of "armed robbery of the antiquity storage area belonging to the German mission in Luxor and the theft of two ancient statues" was not in its jurisdiction, and referred the matter to the Luxor Criminal Court.

On Tuesday the Luxor Criminal Court sentenced the five in custody to a 10 years in prison but six people in absentia to life imprisonment (six plus five is elven, was Hassan Mahmoud convicted this time?).

Egypt Independent, 'Luxor court sentences 11 people for stealing antiquities', 12/06/2012.

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