A new media gag has been ordered by Prosecutor-General Hisham Barakat, this time regarding a case that obtained wide media attention in the past two days, that includes the involvement of senior officials in antiquities smuggling, according to MENA.
News reports, including the state’s official media, had published Sunday stories accounting for the arrest of two brothers who are senior prosecution officers on accusations of looting antiquities, with the collaboration of some police officers.
It appears that the Administrative Control Authority (ACA) was behind the case, as they were allegedly able to catch the suspects through listening in on their conversations. ACA is legally entitled to investigate corruption cases of state administrative bodies, public associations and institutions, organisations to which the state contributes in any form, as well as the business and private sector undertaking any public work.
This comes in only a week after the Criminal Court in Cairo postponed a trial of seven suspects to July for one of the largest antiques robbery operations back in 2003, for attempting to smuggle over 200 rare artefacts, which were later revealed a wider international business. According to state-owned media Al-Ahram, two suspects in the case were in possession of 57,000 pieces in their houses, at an estimated cost of EGP 320m.
Egypt has been struggling to recollect different antiquities smuggled and sold in auctions all over the world.
As for the media gag, at least five similar decisions took place in different court cases since the beginning of 2015, three of them involving police personnel as possible culprits.
One of the gags was strongly contested by activists on social media, as it involved the death of a young lawyer named Karim Hamdy, allegedly due to police torture.