CAIRO: Questions are being raised in Cairo over the reported Zambian seizure of a plane from Egypt that contained a large amount of suspected gold, money and weapons on board.
Egyptian social media has been buzzing with news of the seized aircraft and its mysterious cargo.
The aircraft had transited through and departed from Cairo International Airport toward Zambia, sources told Arab News.
It was inspected to ensure that it complied with all safety and security rules that are applied at the highest levels in all Egyptian airports and ports, the sources added.
The plane bore foreign identification numbers, a source told the Middle East News Agency, or MENA.
Communication is taking place at the highest level between Egyptian authorities and their Zambian counterparts to find out the truth and circumstances of the matter, MENA reported.
MP Amal Abdel-Hamid, meanwhile, sent a parliamentary question to Speaker Hanafy Gebal to request information on the circumstances of the seizure.
The question is directed to the prime minister and the minister of civil aviation.
The MP said in her parliamentary question: “The authorities in Zambia announced the seizure of a private plane (Global Express T-7) carrying $5.6 million in cash, 602 pieces of gold weighing 127.2 kg, five pistols and 126 rounds.”
She added that the authorities had since detained 10 people, including a Zambian citizen, six Egyptians, a Dutchman, a Spaniard and a Latvian for further investigation.
Abdel-Hamid called on the authorities in Egypt — led by the Ministry of Civil Aviation — to release an official statement outlining information surrounding the seizure.
Zambian authorities had earlier announced the seizure of the chartered private plane, with Drug Enforcement Commission Director General Nason Banda holding a press conference on Tuesday.
The charter plane carrying dangerous goods landed at Kenneth Kaunda Airport on Aug. 13, said the director-general.
The commission — together with officers from various law enforcement agencies — conducted an operation on Aug. 14, acting on information received about the aircraft.
It said the operation resulted in the seizure of the goods references by MP Abdel-Hamid, as well as the detainment of the 10 people.
Another aircraft belonging to a local Zambian airline — a King Air B190 — which was believed to have been related to the event was seized, according to the commission.
The second aircraft did not enter Egyptian airspace, the Egyptian source confirmed separately.
Zambia’s Mines and Minerals Development Minister Paul C. Kabuswe said later that a team from his ministry’s geological department had been assigned to determine the legitimacy of the gold.
After a comprehensive analysis, it was discovered that the suspected gold bars were 58-61 percent copper and 38-41 percent zinc, and contained trace amounts of tin and nickel, Kabuswe said.
Source : Arab News