A former Egyptian MP said to be the ringleader of an international smuggling gang is facing charges of excavating and trafficking antiquities following his arrest by security agencies.
Alaa Hassanein, a flamboyant former member of President Hosni Mubarak’s now-dissolved National Democratic Party, was among 18 people arrested on Thursday on charges of illegal excavation and smuggling of 201 Pharaonic, Greek and Roman artefacts, the Interior Ministry revealed.
Hassanein has appeared in local media previously claiming to have dabbled in black magic and exorcisms, according to AFP.
Investigations revealed that he personally led a gang that excavated and trafficked antiquities, the ministry said, reports Arab News.
A five-minute video accompanying the ministry’s statement listed the looted relics, including “two wooden tablets engraved with hieroglyphics, 36 statues of various lengths, 52 copper coins believed to be from the Greek and Roman periods, and three black basalt plates.”
Three bronze statues, a clown statue, and three surgical needles dating back to the Islamic era were also found.