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Police seize Egyptology treasures at Berlin freight depot

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Berlin (dpa) - Police have seized dozens of artefacts from ancient Egypt at a freight depot in Berlin after a tip-off from Egyptian diplomats in the city, prosecutions spokesman Michael Grunwald confirmed Wednesday.

The treasures were being consigned from Switzerland to the United States after being sold for 2 million dollars. They were seized at the end of October, but this was not made public at the time.

Prosecutors have since established that the artefacts left Egypt in the 1970s. Grunwald said the inquiry was focussed on whether they had been legally exported and whether possible penalties were invalid because of the statute of limitations.

Al-Ahram, the Cairo daily, this week reported that the artefacts were exported by a gang of traffickers that included corrupt officials in the Antiquities Department in Cairo. The traffickers have since received hefty prison sentences.

The department said in early November it had succeeded in blocking an auction in Canada of 50 artefacts stolen by the same gang.

Copyright 2005 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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