- Middle East/North Africa
Former Antiquities Minister Zahi Hawass on Tuesday asked the Public Funds Prosecution to adjourn investigating him on charges of smuggling Egyptian antiquities to the United States and Australia and squandering public funds until he submits documents proving his innocence.
Judicial sources told Al-Masry Al-Youm that prosecutors adjourned hearing Hawass’s testimony indefinitely. The sources added that prosecutors need to form a specialized technical committee to take an inventory of all museums and make sure nothing is missing.
Abdel Rahman al-Aidy, chairman of the Central Administration of Middle Egypt Antiquities, and Nour Eddin Abdel Samad, director general of the Department of Archaeological Sites, had submitted notifications to Egypt’s prosecution accusing Hawass, the primary official responsible for Egypt’s antiquities since 2002, of covering up thefts of archaeological sites, wasting public funds, and signing an agreement with an American association that threatened the national security of Egypt by allowing the association to conduct studies on ancient Egyptian kings.
In March 2011, Hawass denied signing an agreement with the American Geographical Society (National Geographic). Rather, he claimed that it was protocol whereby Egypt received a cat scan machine worth US$5 million for Egyptian scientists to conduct research on the mummy of Tutankhamun, in return for National Geographic to film the scientific work.
At the time, National Geographic was to pay an additional US$60,000 to the treasury of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.
Translated from Al-Masry Al-Youm