Thursday, 18 December 2008

Customs Seize Haul of Antiquities at Dubai


Dubai Customs have seized more than 100 antiquities from a vessel that attempted to smuggle them through Dubai Creek's entry, in one of the biggest ever attempts of its kind in the history of the area.
Ahmad Butti Ahmad, Director General of Dubai Customs, said the seized antiques date back to various eras of Middle Eastern history, but are around 5,000 years old. He said six sailors, believed to be from Iran, were on board the vessel and have been detained for questioning. Ahmad said the 128 pieces include stone sculptures, pottery and silver vessels, golden and silver coins, worked pieces of gold and silver, and jewellery.

Customs inspectors had suspected a vessel that arrived in Dubai Creek after they noticed suspicious behaviour from the ship's captain and crew. The captain insisted on clearing the customs procedures of the vessel swiftly and told the inspectors questioning him about the vessel's load that it was empty. A
team of three inspectors boarded the vessel and found a partition in the a wall. The captain refused to remove the partition when asked, claiming that the vessel would sink if the partition is removed. When the inspectors removed the partition, a large number of antiquities concealed in paper boxes were found. Initial examinations showed that the pieces were Iraqi. The captain and the crew denied any knowledge of the contraband, while one sailor admitted to be the one who stored the boxes without the knowledge of the captain and other sailors."The Customs are investigating the issue and questioning the sailors who are giving different versions of stories and saying different countries' names, but apparently they do not know the value of these items," Ahmad said.
Alia Al Theeb,'Customs make huge haul of antiques at Dubai', Gulf News November 27, 2008; also Anon. 'Dubai Customs foil a major attempt to smuggle antiquities', UAE
posted on 27/11/2008.

See also: Gregor McClenaghan, 'Iraqi antiquities seized in Dubai', The National Nov 26, 2008.

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