KUWAIT: Minister of Information, Culture and Minister of State for Youth Affairs Abdulrahman Al-Mutairi has referred a number of officials and former leaders at the National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters to the public prosecution over disappearance of artifacts and relics from Kuwait National Museum.

Issa Al-Ansari, the council’s acting secretary general, said in a statement on Wednesday that the prosecution reported back to the minister, requesting a probe “in case there was a crime”, so the minister formed a panel to conduct a broad investigation into the case. He added the panel affirmed in a report that there was “criminal suspicion falling in the category of public funds protection crimes”, so the case was referred to the public prosecution.

Moreover, the panel concluded that there was “administrative responsibility and criminal suspicion with respect to negligence and slackness by leaders, leading to the disappearance of 19 relics”. Ansari added the panel report noted “there had been a lack of transparency and governance over managing the antiquities and museums in an explicit irregularity”. He affirmed the minister’s keenness on “revealing the truth and enforcing the law on complacent personnel in this crucial issue concerning state heritage and relics”.

Ansari said the report also pointed to a deep administrative and technical imbalance in the antiquities and museums sector, especially interest in the periodic inventory of artifacts and heritage objects, and failure to develop a system of international specifications for the tracking of artifacts and heritage items, which led to the loss of these pieces.

In line with the minister’s directions, the council is upgrading policies according to accredited international covenants and treaties for protecting treasures, Ansari said, adding that Kuwaiti cadres from the museum were being trained on how to receive, handle and store relics and develop programs keeping information about each item. Moreover, the council is also creating adequate places for keeping the treasures that are also part of the national and human heritage. - KUNA