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CRIME

Ex-Italian diplomat sentenced for smuggling Egyptian artefacts

A Cairo criminal court sentenced a former honorary Italian consul to 15 years in jail in absentia on Tuesday for smuggling antiquities out of the country, a judicial source said.

Ex-Italian diplomat sentenced for smuggling Egyptian artefacts
Artefacts unearthed in Luxor, Egypt. File photo: Khaled Desouki/AFP

Ladislav Otakar Skakal, Italy's former honorary consul in Luxor, attempted to smuggle 21,855 artefacts from various historical eras in 2017, according to the prosecutor general.

These included over 21,000 golden coins, 151 miniature figurines, five mummy masks, 11 pottery vessels, three ceramic tiles dating to the Islamic period and a wooden sarcophagus.

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Italian police found the sizeable loot in a diplomatic shipping container heading from the port city of Alexandria to Salerno in Italy in 2017.

Skakal's trial, along with other accomplices, began in September last year. Prosecutors found that the antiquities were smuggled with the aid of Raouf Ghali, the brother of former Hosni Mubarak-era finance minister Youssef Ghali.

A verdict is expected next month for Skakal's alleged Egyptian accomplices.

Egypt managed to retrieve the stolen antiquities in cooperation with Italian authorities in 2018. It also requested that Interpol issue a red notice against the disgraced diplomat.

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BOLOGNA

Italy’s president calls for ‘full truth’ on anniversary of Bologna bombing

President Sergio Mattarella said on Tuesday it was the state's duty to shed more light on the 1980 bombing of Bologna's train station, on the 42nd anniversary of the attack that killed 85 people and injured 200.

Italy's president calls for 'full truth' on anniversary of Bologna bombing

On August 2nd 1980, a bomb exploded in the railway station’s waiting room, causing devastation on an unprecedented scale.

Five members of terrorist groups were later convicted in relation to the bombing, the worst episode in Italy’s ‘Years of Lead’ period of political violence in the 1970s and 80s.

Most recently, in 2020, a former member of the far-right Armed Revolutionary Nucleus (NAR) was sentenced to life imprisonment for providing logistical support to those who carried out the attack.

But suspicions remain of cover-ups and the involvement of “deviant elements” within the nation’s security services, reported Italian news agency Ansa.

READ ALSO: Bologna massacre: 40 years on, questions remain over Italy’s deadliest postwar terror attack

“The bomb that killed people who happened to be at the station on that morning 42 years ago still reverberates with violence in the depths of the country’s conscience,” Mattarella said in a speech marking the anniversary on Tuesday.

“It was the act of cowardly men of unequalled inhumanity, one of the most terrible of the history of the Italian Republic.

A train compartment at Bologna station pictured following the 1980 bombing attributed to the neo-fascist terrorist organization Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari.

“It was a terrorist attack that sought to destabilise democratic institutions and sow fear, hitting ordinary citizens going about their everyday tasks.

“On the day of the anniversary our thoughts go, above all, to the relatives forced to suffer the greatest pain.

“The neo-fascist nature of the massacre has been established in court and further steps have been made to unveil the cover-ups and those who ordered the attack in order to comply with the Republic’s duty to seek the full truth”.

The bombing remains Western Europe’s fourth deadliest postwar terror attack, and one of the most devastating in Italy’s history.

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