US returns 77 stolen antiquities back to Yemen

According to a deal with the government of the war-torn nation, the United States has returned 77 looted artifacts to Yemen, US authorities announced on Tuesday. The artifacts will be kept “temporary” in a museum in Washington.

Breon Peace, the district attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement that the artifacts are “64 relief carved stone heads, 11 Quran manuscript pages, a bronze inscribed bowl, and a Funerary Stele” from Minaean tribal cultures in the northwest Yemeni highlands dating back to the first century BCE.

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The prosecutor’s office, the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, and the Smithsonian Institution, which oversees over 20 American institutions, together made the announcement.

The judicial department of New York state has been engaged in a protracted effort to recover artifacts that have been stolen from all over the world and are now housed in the city’s museums and galleries.

At least 700 items were returned to 14 nations between 2020 and 2021, including Cambodia, Egypt, Greece, India, Iraq, Italy, and Pakistan.

According to the DA’s statement, the 64 carved stone heads were seized in the US as part of a 2012 plea agreement with antiquities smuggler Mousa Khouli, also known as “Morris” Khouli.

With fraudulent documentation, the antiques were brought into the US from Dubai. Yemen’s ambassador to the United States, Mohammed Al-Hadhrami, expressed his “deep gratitude” to New York, according to the statement.

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