Tuesday, 8 January 2013

The Hype and the Reality: Antiquities Bust Show Ends With a Whimper

The US authorities have another damp squib antiquities case on their hands. It's instructive to look back at what they were crowing about back in July last year (Kiran Khalid, "Feds: Global antiquities smuggling ring dismantled", CNN July 15, 2011: ICE Press release "ICE makes arrests and seizes cultural artifacts stolen from Egypt", July 14, 2011) and set it in the context of what has now been happening. For that, see Rick St Hilaire, U.S. v. Khouli et al. Update: Motion to Defer Prosecution Completes Rapid End to Antiquities Case, 08 Jan 2013. Has the demise of Zahi Hawass and the decline of US influence in Egypt anything to do with this being dropped, or was it lack of any real concrete evidence to support the overreaching initial allegations?

Both Mr Alshdaifat (Holyland on V-coins) and Mr Khouli (Palmyra Heritage) are in business, one assumes that Mr Lewis still has his collection (the evidence against him always seemed a bit suspect to me, no wonder he's not going to have his day in court, his lawyers were probably looking forward to making mincemeat of the prosecution's arguments). Despite what prosecutors were claiming, no alleged "ring" has been broken up, no "money laundering" charges were ever discussed. In the end, what we get is just all a big New York farce, coming right on the back of the Weiss fiasco (and what about the Flamenbaum case?)
Once again, let me say that Ayman Ramadan is not now and never was a "fugitive" except in the imagination of a few US tough-guy world-policeman wannabes. The guy is not an American, was in Dubai doing his thing, and of course cannot be indicted for that under any US law, any more than can any foreign dealer named in the 'Tarby' fossil case.  

So, what happened to the rocking horses?


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