Switzerland on Monday returned to Egypt a fragment of a more than 3,400-year-old statue of Pharaoh Ramses II, which was stolen decades ago from a temple in Abydos.
It was the director of the Federal Office of Culture (OFC), Carine Bachmann, who handed over this "important archaeological asset" to the Egyptian embassy in Switzerland on Monday in Bern.
The stone sculpture of Pharaoh Ramses II to which the returned fragment belongs is part of a group statue where the king sits alongside various Egyptian deities, according to the OFC.
Ascended to the throne at age 25, succeeding his father Seti I , Ramesses II ruled Egypt for approximately 66 years, the longest reign in Egyptian history. An exhibition is currently dedicated to him in Paris until September 6th.
The fragment returned on Monday had been stolen between the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s from the temple of Ramses II at Abydos in Egypt, he said in a press release.
He had transited through various countries before arriving in Switzerland, where he was finally confiscated by the authorities of the canton of Geneva following criminal proceedings.
"This restitution underlines the joint commitment of Switzerland and Egypt to combat the illicit trade in cultural property, reinforced in 2011 by the entry into force of a bilateral agreement on the import and return of cultural property. “, said the Federal Office of Culture.
Both Switzerland and Egypt are parties to the 1970 UNESCO Convention to Prohibit and Prevent the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.