Military court to rule on artifact theft Tuesday

The Qena Military Court will issue a verdict Tuesday, 26 February in the retrial of defendants convicted of the armed robbery of storage rooms at the funerary temple of King Amenhotep III on Luxor's West Bank.

Two pharaonic statues were stolen, a 28-by-23cm black granite statue and a bust of the lion-headed war goddess Sekhmet, from the German archaeological mission’s storage rooms at the temple in March.

Ten defendants were convicted of raiding the mission’s storage room and attacking temple guards, wounding three, before stealing the statues.

After identifying the suspects and the whereabouts of the stolen items, the Luxor police, with the help of the armed forces, raided a house in the Rawageh district west of Luxor where a number of the suspects were hiding, arresting six.

Security forces also raided the home of one of the defendants in the Sheikh Khalifa district and seized the two stolen statues.

According to the state-owned Middle East News Agency, a military court had sentenced the 10 defendants, including five at large, to a prison sentence of 25 years. It acquitted one of the defendants, Hassan Mahmoud, who was accused of driving the car used in the robbery.

However, the Supreme Military Court accepted an appeal submitted in December by the defendants’ lawyer and ordered a retrial.

Translated from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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