Accused monument smugglers stand trial [Archives:2007/1025/Local News]

February 15 2007

AL-MAHWEET, Feb. 13 ) Al-Taweela Primary Court in Al-Mahweet began Monday the first session to investigate the case of a group accused of destroying and smuggling monuments from Al-Taweelah's Bait Shathan.

During the session, seven smugglers were accused of destroying two archeological sites in Bait Shathan, together with looting and trading in embalmed mummies.

Four of them admitted to the crime, while the other three denied the crimes.

The court decided to give the prosecution additional time to bring more evidence in the next session next week.

The Monuments Office in Al-Mahweet, in collaboration with security apparatuses arrested the seven in mid-January while they were trading in mummies looted from an archeological site in Bait Shadhan.

Yemeni monuments were subjected to regulated and random looting by gangs specialized in monument smuggling. The biggest scandal of monument selling took place in November 2005 when a large group of monuments smuggled from Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Saudi Arabia was auctioned.

Most researchers believe that most of these monuments were smuggled in an organized way.

Yemeni security forces managed to arrest different gangs possessing a large number of monuments, and recently restored a number of looted books and monuments to the Sana'a Great Mosque's library.