CAIRO, March 30 (AFP) – A French archaeologist charged with trying to smuggle antiquities out of Egypt was ordered released on bail Tuesday after seven months in custody awaiting trial, his lawyer said.
The criminal court in the second city of Alexandria agreed to bail of 5,000 Egyptian pounds (around USD 800) after the French consulate gave an undertaking he would not flee the country, said Samira Soufiane, counsel for Stephane Rousseau.
The Frenchman was arrested at Cairo airport in August 2003 after customs officers found several terracotta figurines and 158 coins in his luggage.
Prosecutors charge that the items were antiquities whose export was banned under a 1983 law against smuggling.
But the defence insists they were cheap copies which Rousseau picked up in curio shops and had nothing to do with the excavations he had worked on.
If convicted, the Frenchman faces a prison term of three to 15 years.
His arrest followed a series of antiquities smuggling scandals involving Egyptian officials. The trial reopens on May 22.
Subject: French news