A military court has sentenced three American University in Cairo security guards to five years of prison and a 500,000 EGP penalty in the AUC stolen artifacts case on May 10. The court also sentenced an AUC maintenance employee and one of the defendant’s brothers to three years in prison and a 500,000 EGP penalty. A sixth defendant was found innocent. “The verdict is under consideration and the defense is not pleased with it,” said Rahmy Abou Hafez, an appeals lawyer defending one of the security guards.
”The court took into consideration the Supreme Council of Antiquities’ letter which said that the artifacts belonged to the university and not the state, yet the only reason this case was transferred to a military court was because the defendants were accused of stealing from the state,” he added.
“After it was proven that the artifacts belonged to AUC, the charges were charges of trafficking, yet they were not asked about that at all during the investigation and the charges were not investigated which makes this amendment illegal,” continued Abou Hafez. “We will file for an appeal and hopefully this time (the defendants) will be found innocent,” he stated. The stolen artifacts, 145 pieces and 50 replicas out of 1,600 pieces, were kept in a storage facility beneath Ewart Hall for almost 20 years.
According to Zahi Hawass, minister for antiquities, AUC retained the right to keep these artifacts because the excavation fell under Egyptian law number 215 of 1951, which allowed those who found artifacts to retain a share of the findings.
That article was only cancelled in the year 1983 and replaced by law number 117.
However, in a previous interview with The Independent, Ali El-Araby, executive director of supply chain management and business support, said the artifacts were found and acquired by the university in the early 1990s. El-Araby said that he had no new information and that he has not “looked at any developments regarding the investigations.” He said that he was only involved when he was questioned in the investigation and gave information about the break in at the Tahrir campus and the disappearance of the artifacts. Ashraf Kamal, director of AUC security, refused to comment. AUC President Lisa Anderson could not be reached for comment.