France returns Egyptian antiquitiesBy French Customs
On 26 October 2017, French Customs handed over eight archaeological finds to the Egyptian authorities during the official visit to France by Egypt’s President, H.E. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
These antiquities (two cat statuettes, one sculpted stone head and five painted wood tablets), which are more than 3,000 years old, were discovered in January 2010 by Customs officials from the Cross-Channel Customs Control Service at Paris’ Gare du Nord train station, in the luggage of a British resident who was on his way back to London.
After an examination by the Louvre’s Department of Egyptian Antiquities confirmed that the eight items were Egyptian cultural goods dating from the 1st Century B.C., the antiquities were seized, and the Paris Public Prosecutor initiated a criminal investigation, led by the French National Judicial Customs Department. This unit was set up in 2002 to step up the fight against major fraudulent trafficking, by granting Customs legal prerogatives.
Investigations revealed that the British resident had brought the antiquities from Egypt with the aim of taking them to the United Kingdom for sale there, and that he had previously exported cultural goods from Egypt illegally. He was ordered to pay a Customs fine, and the items were confiscated.
The fight against trafficking in cultural goods, especially from conflict zones that are susceptible to plundering, is a fundamental mission of French Customs. 2018, the European Year of Cultural Heritage, will see further action being taken by Customs in this area.