People often ask me, ‘well, it’s not really as exciting as Indiana Jones, now is it?’
I reply, ‘to an archaeologist, yes, it certainly is!’

— Zahi Hawass

Explanation of the Court Trial Against Me

I have to tell the world right now, there is a story going around that I am going to be in jail, which is a complete misunderstanding.

Last year, we were taking bids from different companies to run a book store inside the Egyptian Museum. There is a person, who was renting a bookstore inside the Museum. He wanted to stop the bidding process, because he thought he should keep his contract. This person filed a case with the Misdemeanor Court in Agouza, Cairo, in order to stop the bidding process. This case was filed against the Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), not against me personally, but against the role I was holding at that time.

However, before the case came to trial, the bidding process ended at the end of May 2010, and the Supreme Council of Antiquities (now the Ministry of State for Antiquities) chose a company, the Egyptian Sound and Light Company, to run the bookstore. Shortly after this decision was made, the court trial happened, at the beginning of June, so the SCA representatives did not have time to present evidence that the bidding had finished. Therefore, the court made a ruling that the bidding should stop. However, it was too late to do anything.

He still wanted to get his way, so this person continued to bring action against me in the court. In November 2010, the court made a ruling, that I was innocent, because as the Secretary General of the SCA, I was not in charge of legal affairs at the SCA, this was under the control of the Ministry of Culture at that time. But this was not enough for this person, he brought the case to the court again, claiming he had evidence that I was in fact in charge of legal affairs, and this time, the SCA did not have a legal representative present at the court.  The court made the current ruling that I, as head of the SCA, was sentenced to a year in jail. This is how the court in Egypt works, and this is not an uncommon thing that the head of an organization gets sentenced like this. When a ruling like this is made, the defendant (in this case myself as Secretary General of the SCA at that time) has a certain amount of time to appeal the decision of the court.

Tomorrow, the head of the Legal Affairs Department at the Ministry of Antiquities will go to the court to file our appeal. He will present evidence that the bid for the bookstore contract was finished before the original court ruling, so therefore we could not follow the ruling to stop the bidding. We already had completed the bidding! I have every confidence that this matter will be cleared up very soon, so I want to tell everyone not to worry. I respect the laws of my country very highly, and the rulings of our courts. I intend to handle this matter entirely within our legal system. Nothing will cause me to lose focus from my goal of protecting the sites of Egypt.

 

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