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Egypt renews detention of businessman in funding antiquities excavation case

Watch towers at Tora prison in the Egyptian capital Cairo. [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images]
Watch towers at Tora prison in the Egyptian capital Cairo 15 September 2020 [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images]

Egypt yesterday renewed the detention of the prominent businessman, Hassan Rateb, for 45 days pending investigation on suspicion that he funded illegal archaeological excavation operations.

The prosecution accuses Rateb of paying millions of Egyptian pounds to former parliamentarian, Alaa Hassanein, and his brother to excavate for antiquities.

A large amount of statues, stones and coins suspected of being ancient Egyptian antiquities were found in Hassanein's possession when he was arrested in June. His brother was reported to have paid for the equipment used in the operation.

A committee from the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities said the seized antiquities date back to the Prehistoric, Pharaonic, Greek, Roman and Islamic ages, according to the prosecution's statement.

Rateb owns a group of investments in the northern Sinai Peninsula, including the Sinai University, the Sinai White Cement Factory, the Sama Sinai Investment Group, and the Sinai Development Foundation. But official sources have said that he was arrested in June after he refused to sell Sinai University to the government.

A few days prior to his arrest, Rateb said he had "no intention to sell the university," stressing that the rumours about his plan to sell the university were "groundless.".

READ: Egypt court renews detention of Aboul Fotouh, Ola Qaradawi 

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