Egypt's antiquities minister cleared in appeal

AP News
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Posted: Jun 15, 2011 11:46 AM
Egypt's antiquities minister cleared in appeal

An appeals court cleared Egypt's antiquities minister on Wednesday of failing to implement a court order, sparing the international face of Egyptian archaeology from a year in prison.

The earlier ruling had ordered Zahi Hawass to stop bidding procedures for space in a gift shop of The Egyptian Museum, which is home to treasures like Tutankhamun's gold funerary mask. He failed to comply and was sentenced to a year in prison.

Besides the legal challenge, Hawass has found himself at the center of other trouble since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak in February.

Critics accused Hawass of being too close to Mubarak, who elevated the antiquities chief to the position of a Cabinet minister shortly before his ouster in a popular uprising.

Archaeology graduates also held protests accusing Hawass of corruption and seeking publicity for himself.

Most troubling for Egypt's heritage, many antiquities sites have been looted by criminals amid the country's political upheaval.

(This version CORRECTS that Hawass was not charged with corruption).)