A Stolen ancient Egyptian artefact will be delivered to the Egyptian embassy in Nicosia, quietly and away from the prying eyes of the media, it emerged on Monday.
State broadcaster CyBC reported that the artefact is to be handed to the Egyptian embassy according to the protocol on the repatriation of stolen antiquities.
It follows an Egyptian request to Cyprus to return the item, under the mutual legal assistance treaty between the two countries.
Initially the item – which surfaced in Cyprus – was to be presented as a gift to visiting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al–Sisi.
The object in question is a vessel dated to the 13th century BC depicting Ramses II of the 19th dynasty of Egypt.
The Egyptians claim the item had been smuggled out of their country.
But last week certain MPs raised questions about the artefact’s real provenance, claiming the item was in fact unearthed in Cyprus and that was it the subject of a police investigation.
As an evidentiary item in an ongoing police probe, the MPs said, it should therefore be held by Cypriot authorities until its provenance were determined.
MPs of the House watchdog committee had asked the attorney-general to step in by instructing police to reclaim the item from the Antiquities Department, which was supposed to hand the artefact to President Nicos Anastasiades who would then present it to Sisi.
Responding to the MPs, attorney-general Costas Clerides said on Monday that, having reviewed the file handed to him by the police, he did not find the case warrants further investigation or prosecution.
The police concluded that the artefact was unearthed in Egypt, and not in a location in Kouklia, Paphos.
The AG said that last Friday he instructed police to invite members of the public to come forward with any information on the artefact’s provenance that might contradict the view that it was stolen from Egypt.
The deadline for contacting the police was Monday, November 20. No one contacted authorities by that deadline, the AG said, suggesting the case was now considered closed.
The story goes back to October 2016, when a Greek Cypriot man contacted antiquities and requested an export permit for the artefact.
At the time, he did not bring the item with him, but provided photos of it. The man claimed the object was part of a private collection of his, and that he bought it from a woman for €350 in 1986.
But MPs contend that around the same timeframe, a number of people filed a report with police claiming the item was in fact stolen from a field in Kouklia, Paphos.
The Egyptian government filed a formal request for the artefact’s repatriation in March 2017.