The former head of Lebanon's General Directorate of Antiquities, his two sons and five other people received prison sentences Thursday for embezzling four million dollars from the department, judicial sources said.
The Beirut criminal court sentenced the department's former director Camille Asmar to seven years in prison, while Asmar's son Daniel, the director of excavations Mohammed Tufic Rifai and employee Tufic Saliba were all handed six-year prison terms, they said.
Asmar's other son Manuel was sentenced to two years in prison. Another employee was sentenced to two and a half years and another two employees were given three-year prison terms.
The court ordered the Asmars and their colleagues to return the six billion pounds (four million dollars) which they were charged with embezzling, they said.
Asmar and the others had been arrested in April 1999 during an anti-corruption campaign launched by President Emile Lahoud that landed a number of close allies of Rafiq Hariri, then in the opposition and currently prime minister, in prison.
The campaign had also included a large inquiry into ancient artifacts stolen and sometimes smuggled abroad during Lebanon's 15 years of chaos and civil war that ended in 1990.
Over 15,000 archeological artifacts, including priceless byzantine and hellenistic mosaics, have since been recovered from private homes, antiques galleries and museums abroad -- BEIRUT (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)