Friday, 27 June 2014

Islamic Artefacts Bound for Switzerland and Seized in Denmark Return to Egypt

Mamdouh Al-Damati, Minister of Antiquities announced that eight Islamic artefacts,stolen in 2008 from Ganem Al-Bahlawan mosque in Old Cairo will soon be returned. The items concerned are :
wood panels from the mosque’s pulpit, dating back to 1429 AD, the largest of which is 150 centimetres long and 50 centimetres wide, while the other panels range from approximately 10-20 centimetres. Ali Ahmed, Director of the Retrieved Antiquities Department explained that the Egyptian Foreign Affairs Ministry had been notified earlier in 2012 by the Egyptian Embassy in Copenhagen, that the Danish police department had confiscated the stolen artefacts in a shipment travelling through Denmark from the United States to Switzerland. He further added that the Egyptian government filed a lawsuit in Denmark to retrieve the artefacts, however the court decided on the retrieval of one panel only in the first hearing. Further pleas granted the retrieval of all the artefacts, which are scheduled to arrive at Cairo airport at 8 pm on Friday.
It remains an unanswered question who in the USA had shipped the stolen items out of the US. It is also worth considering reasons why, when they were being shipped to Switzerland (there are direct flights), they considered it necessary to send them via Denmark. Could the intent have been to thus 'launder' their collecting history ("from an old Danish collection")? Had the seller got some false document suggesting a prolonged stay in Denmark and needed Danish customs documentation to make it more usable? Was the intended recipient a collector or another dealer?

Egypt retrieves 8 Islamic artefacts after court ruling in Denmark' TNN June 20, 2014

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