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Egypt: Three arrested after trying to steal 10-tonne Ramses II statue with a crane

Prosecutors say men - who may be behind other thefts - attempted to nab ancient monument using heavy digging tools
The site of the theft of the statue of Ramses II in Aswan (Al Ahram/File photo)

Three people have been arrested in Egypt after attempting to steal a 10-tonne statue of Pharoah Ramses II using a crane.

Egypt's Public Prosecution said it ordered the detention of the three men pending investigation, accusing them of "having attempted to steal a pharaonic statue" in the Nile city of Aswan, 675km south of Cairo.

According to the prosecution statement, police reported that "three people were arrested in possession of hand digging tools and heavy equipment" on Tuesday.

Their equipment included a crane, which they had used in an attempt to "lift the statue and excavate the antiquities of the region".

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The Aswan Antiquities Authority has proven "the antiquity [of the statue] and attributed it to Ramses II, with a weight of around 10 tonnes", the statement added.

The prosecutor's office said it had ordered police to investigate other possible suspects in the crime.

Ramses II, one of Egypt's most famous pharaohs, belonged to the 19th dynasty and reigned for 67 years in the 14th century BCE. He was known for constructing temples throughout Egypt.

In the past decade, Egypt has recovered around 29,000 antiquities that were illegally taken abroad, while illegal excavation sites are common around the country.

In 2021, businessman Hassan Rateb was arrested for funding illegal excavation works. He was later sentenced to five years in prison

Security officials said Rateb had financed the excavations, which were carried out by Alaa Hassanein, a former member of parliament in the historical Cairo district of Masr El Qadeema.

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