AN AUSTRALIAN antiques dealer has been arrested in Egypt for allegedly trying to smuggle two 2300-year-old animal mummies and religious figurines out of the country.
It is believed Frank Bottaro, 61, who runs BC Galleries in Armadale, Melbourne, was on his way to Thailand on Tuesday when he was picked up at Cairo International Airport.
A security official became suspicious of the figurines that were allegedly wrapped as gifts and placed amid souvenir ceramic pots in his suitcase.
A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokeswoman confirmed yesterday that an unidentified 61-year-old was arrested for allegedly smuggling antiquities but had yet to be charged.
She said that, under Egyptian law, he could not be charged until he had appeared before a magistrate, and Egyptian courts were shut for several days during Christmas holidays.
She said officials were providing consular assistance to the man and his family in Cairo and Canberra.
A separate source later confirmed the man's name was Frank Bottaro.
The charge of smuggling antiquities carries a maximum jail term of 15 years.
According to local reports, when security officials opened the suspect suitcase, they allegedly found mummies of a cat and an ibis, both dating back to 300BC. They also allegedly found 19 figurines of the ancient Egyptian gods of Horus and Thoth, wrapped as gifts.
An Australian has been arrested in Egypt for allegedly trying to smuggle a 2,000-year-old mummified cat and other antiquities out in his suitcase, a security official said on Thursday.
The man was arrested on Wednesday trying to board a plane to Bangkok, the Cairo airport official said, after a mummified cat and ibis were found in his bags along with 19 religious figurines, including of the gods Horus and Thoth.
Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed that a 61-year-old man had been arrested and detained in the Egyptian capital.
The man was receiving consular support while in detention but had yet to be charged with any offence, a spokeswoman said.
The man is a teacher who had wrapped the more than 2,000-year-old artefacts as gift souvenirs, Egyptian media reported. It was not immediately clear how the man had obtained the objects.
Egypt State Information Service
The archaeological Committee that was formed by the Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass said in a statement issued by the council in 24-12-2008 that the "flax linen" seized with an Australian airport to Cairo is an archaeological flax linen.
The flax linen that was founded were used in the mummification process of animal mummies that the ancient Egyptians were worshiped in many areas in Egypt, such as large tuna mountain ,tel basta and Saqqara.
Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni has demanded Dr. Hawass to go to Cairo airport immediately upon recieving information about seizing an Australian tourist carrying 5.5 kg of coils used in the mummification process while traveling from Cairo Airport.
Airport Security Authority with cooperation with tourism police have taken all the legal procedures to deliver the passenger to the appropriate investigation agency for determining how these coils were delivered to him.
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