Centuries-old stolen coin treasure recovered
8 May 2010, 10:03 PM
Abu Dhabi Police have recovered centuries-old stolen coins belonging to the emirate of Abu Dhabi.
The archaeological treasure was excavated by unlicensed drillers’ 20 years ago at Halat Al Bahrani Island, behind the Abu Dhabi Intercontinental Hotel.
The treasure consists of 33 coins of various shapes and sizes carrying different dates from across the emirates.
Some of them were cast in Constantinople — the capital of the Roman Empire, Arab and European countries.
Colonel Hamad Al Hamadi, Director of Criminal Investigations Department (CID), Abu Dhabi Police, said the relics had been in the possession of a Syrian investor for about 20 years.
The treasure was given to him to hide by his friend, a Syrian of Swedish origin who is living outside the country, after he got them extracted through unlicensed excavations during his work as a marine driller on the island within the Abu Dhabi sea territories.
Hamadi said his department received information from the Abu Dhabi Authority for Heritage and Culture (ADACH), which was asked by the UAE Embassy in Stockholm to conduct an investigation about a collection of rare antiquities belonging to the emirate of Abu Dhabi.
The coins, he added, were considered by archaeologists as a precious treasure that should be returned to the UAE.
Unveiling more details about the collection, Colonel Dr Rashid Mohammed Bu Rasheed, Head of the Organised Crime, CID, said the intelligence stated that a 69-year-old Syrian investor possessed it and that his 66-year-old friend, a resident of Sweden, claimed that he had lost a precious trust he had deposited with the Syrian investor 20 years ago when he was working on the island in Abu Dhabi.
He indicated that a team of specialists, who were charged with investigating the case, managed to arrest the Syrian suspect who confessed to having the coins and some shells.
He told the investigators that his Swedish friend deposited it about 20 years ago in a plastic bag containing the antiquities without being informed of where he had got them from.
The Syrian said his friend from Sweden had asked him to return to him the trust after a family row and heated argument eight years ago but, given the broken ties, he didn’t do that.
The police officer said the case was handed over to the Public Prosecution and legal measures are being taken with regard to the coins.