The English Language version of the Egyptian Newspaper Al Ahram is reporting that the star of many History Channel and National Geographic Channel documentaries and former Antiquities Minister in the Egyptian Government, Zahi Hawass is facing new accusations of corruption and squandering public finds.
The controversial former minister with his trademark, Indiana Jones [lite] hat, was a familiar figure on our television screens until he lost his, newly created, government post with the fall of the Egyptian Government of former President Hosni Mubarak during the so called Arab Spring in 2011. While he has often been accused of corrupt dealings, as well as profiting from his position and wasting public funds, a series of earlier investigations into Dr Hawass’s activities have cleared him on all charges, most recently in May 2014.
The new charges came in comments by prosecutors at another trial recently concluded in Cairo and relate to investigations on the Giza plateau in the vicinity of the Pyramid of Khufu. The case involved six Egyptian nationals, comprising three antiquities ministry employees, two pyramid guards as well as the director of a travel agency, and three German researchers who have been sentenced in absentia to a prison term of five years with hard labour. The accused, one of who is 47 year old school teacher and self styled “Independent Archaeologist” Dominique Goerlitz, allegedly conspired to take Old Kingdom artifacts, including paint and rock samples from an out of bounds area in the interior of the Great Pyramid itself, and export them. Mr Goerlitz, who did not deny the charge, is understood to be trying to prove that the Great Pyramid is substantially older than is believed by mainstream Egyptology.
The Egyptians convicted in the case are expected to appeal, while it is also understood that if the German nationals involved in the case ever do become subject to extradition or arrest in Egypt, they will face an immediate retrial because they were convicted “in absentia”.
Responding to the latest charges Dr Hawass told the news agency AFP “These remarks are totally unfounded.”
Meanwhile the Egyptian government announced that the material allegedly stolen, including a fragment from a scroll naming the pharaoh Khufu, was recovered in August 2014.