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Bronze of ancient goddess to be returned to Iraq

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(11 Jan 2009) SHOTLIST 1. Wide exterior of the Cairo museum 2. Various of tourists standing outside the museum 3. Egyptian antiquity chief Zahi Hawass unwrapping small statue that was found 4. Close of statue in Hawass' hand 5. SOUNDBITE: (English) Zahi Hawass, Egyptian Antiquity Chief: "We found this statue that represent maybe one of the ancient Iraqi gods, made of bronze and has been caught at Nuweiba's port.'' 6. Cutaway of press 7. SOUNDBITE: (English) Zahi Hawass, Egyptian Antiquity Chief: "We are happy today to give the (Iraqi) ambassador in the presence of a representative from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this statue is to go back to museum in Iraq again.'' 8. Hawass shaking hand with Iraq ambassador to Cairo and handing him the statue 9. Close of statue in the front, documents being signed in the background of the shot 10. SOUNDBITE: (Arabic) Abdel Hadi Ahmed, Iraqi Charge d'Affaires: ''There are negotiations with the U.S. government to recall 670 artefacts found on the American market.'' 11. Close of statue STORYLINE A stolen bronze figure the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities claims to be of an ancient Iraqi goddess was returned to the Iraqi government on Sunday. Egyptian antiquities chief, Zahi Hawass, said an Egyptian man working in Jordan was caught in Egypt's Red Sea port of Nuweiba three months ago trying to smuggle the statuette into the country. Hawass handed the10 centimetre-long statue, green with oxidisation, over to Iraqi Charge d'Affaires, Abdel Hadi Ahmed, at a press conference in Cairo. Hawass said that since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, his office has been tracking stolen Iraqi artifacts as well as Egyptian ones, and had managed to capture 5000 Iraqi artifacts being smuggled into or out of the country. The chief archaeologist said he couldn't tell the exact age or historical background of the statuette recovered in Nuweiba, but said the fertility headpiece on the statue indicated a female diety. Hawass said the smuggler now faces between three to five years in jail, but this could change to 25 years if a new law he is pushing is approved in parliament next month. The Iraqi Charges d'Affaires told reporters that 24, 000 stolen artifacts have been returned to Iraq since July 2008. According to UNESCO, between 3,000 to 7,000 pieces are still believed to be missing, including about 40 to 50 that are considered to be of great historic importance. In Baghdad, the museum remains closed to the public because of unrelenting violence and continued insecurity and the need for renovation. The smuggling of stolen antiquities from Iraq's rich cultural heritage is allegedly helping finance Iraqi extremist groups, according to the U.S. investigator who led the initial probe into the looting of Baghdad's National Museum. You can license this story through AP Archive:

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