Monday 2 April 2012

Forfeiture Claim on Ka Nefer Nefer Mask Dismissed

This is like a bad dream. Peter Tompa is gleefully reporting (no link given, Google search at present fails to locate the document he quotes - where does this come from?) that a US District Court has dismissed the forfeiture claim brought by the United States on behalf of Egypt for the Ka Nefer Nefer mummy mask in the St. Louis Art Museum (SLAM). This is part of what Lobboblogger Tompa gleefully reports the court says: 
The verified complaint does not provide a factual statement of theft, smuggling, or clandestine importation. [...] The Government's legal conclusion, in paragraph 22 of the verified complaint, that "[b]ecause the Mask was stolen, it could not have been lawfully exported from Egypt or lawfully imported into the United States," misses a number of factual and logical steps, namely: (1) an assertion that the Mask was actually stolen; (2) factual circumstances relating to when the Government believes the Mask was stolen; (3) facts relating to the location from which the Mask was stolen; (4) facts regarding who the Government believes stole the Mask; and (5) a statement or identification of the law which the Government believes applies under which the Mask could be considered stolen and/or illegally exported.
Nobody was seen stealing it, so it is not stolen? Nobody saw that jerk stealing coins from the ANS collection, nor was able to provide any more details about exactly when and whether they were actually stolen, than the Egyptians can. But the ANS thief was found guilty by a US court. This sets an awful precedent. Shame on St Louis, Shame on SLAM, shame on the American government's lawyers who it seems cannot even put together a proper case. 

UPDATE: Monday, April 2, 2012
Rick St Hilaire can be relied on to have more details than Lobboblogger  ('District Court Dismisses Government’s Case to Forfeit SLAM Mummy Mask'): 

The U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri, today published orders dismissing the government's’ forfeiture complaint against the Ka Nefer Nefer mummy mask. [...] The government filed a claim in March 2011 to forfeit the 19th Dynasty Egyptian mummy mask of a noblewoman, alleging that it was stolen from Egypt. Judge Henry Autrey brought the government’s case to a halt after concluding this past Saturday that the government failed to articulate its claim that the mask was stolen or that it was illegally brought into the United States.  Excerpts of the court’s nine page opinion follows with citations omitted:
The Government bases its claim for forfeiture on Section 1595a of Title 19. Section 1595a(c) provides in relevant part:[....]
Judge Henry Autrey see here and here. There is no mention of whether he collects ancient coins or not...

UPDATE Tuesday, April 3, 2012
A slim hope that the struggle to see right done in America is not over yet, Rick St Hilaire  reminds us that there is another case SLAM v. U.S. which remains alive ... for the moment: 'The Other SLAM Mummy Mask Case Quietly Remains Alive for Now'. Peter Tompa calls for the SLAM director, Brent Benjamin to be (re-) appointed to the CPAC to "represent museum interests" - the question is whether all museums actually want such a guy "representing" them?


Rick St. Hilaire said...

A motion for reconsideration has been filed by prosecutors.

Rick St. Hilaire said...

The prosecution has filed a motion to reconsider.

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