Hosni receives official charged over van Gogh theft

Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni received in his office on Monday the former chief of the Fine Arts Sector and primary responsible party in the August van Gogh painting theft, Mohsen Shaalan.

The 45-minute meeting was the first time the two had met after Shaalan was released from prison ten days ago.

The parley was orchestrated by prominent writer Khairy Ramadan, who contacted the minister and arranged the appointment. Ramadan informed Hosni he would bring Shaalan with him. Media were not permitted to attend.

In press statements following the meeting, Hosni said he had received Shaalan as an artist and member of his ministry.

“I’m happy he’s back to his home and children," Hosni said. "Whoever works in the ministry cannot leave it, it’s a ministry of creativity.”

Regarding the possibility of Shaalan’s returning to his previous position, Hosni said, “The issue has a legal aspect as investigations are not over yet. He can’t return to his position, but he can be appointed as a senior advisor.” The two reportedly discussed such a prospect during the meeting.

“I’m the son of this ministry and Hosni is the leader," Shaalan said. "I look to what happened with the imagination of an artist. I see it as a war in which both of us have lost.”

“I hope I can return back to my position until I retire in April.”

Hosni canceled an inspection of the Museum of Islamic Art Monday scheduled in light of First Lady Suzanne Mubarak’s upcoming visit in order to meet Shaalan.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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