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France returns 250 antiquities seized by customs to Egypt

Amulets, rings, funerary statues and pitchers, dating from 2000 BC ere returned to the Egyptian embassy

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Paris has returned 250 ancient artefacts to Egypt that were illegally imported into the country and seized by French customs officials, the foreign ministry said Thursday.

Amulets, rings, funerary statues and pitchers, dating from 2000 BC to the Roman, Byzantine and Medieval eras were returned to the Egyptian embassy.

Foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nadal said the artefacts were from “two batches of archeological items ... identified by the Louvre museum as authentic.”

French customs seized the items at Paris’s main airport Charles de Gaulle in March and November 2010, hidden in the baggage of travellers coming from Cairo.

Customs authorities said in a statement it was the third time this year that France had returned illegally imported cultural artefacts to foreign authorities.

In February, President Francois Hollande returned an extremely valuable ancient terracotta statue from Nigeria’s Nok civilisation -- seized by customs in 2012 -- to authorities in the country.

And in early November, 13 reptile fossils were returned to Brazil, eight years after they were seized.