ALEXANDRIA (US): A Pakistani American, convicted by a US federal court for smuggling artefacts into the United States from Pakistan, could face up to 20 years in prison.

A statement, issued by the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, says that Ijaz Khan, 42, of Sante Fe, New Mexico, would be sentenced on May 5.

Evidence presented in a court in Alexandria accused Khan of being involved in a conspiracy to smuggle ancient artefacts, including pottery and bronze weapons.

The conviction, announced recently, also upheld the charge that Khan and his co-conspirator Vera Lautt, 57, also of Santa Fe, New Mexico, violated US immigration laws for getting US citizenship for Khan.

The artefacts were stolen from burial sites, and coins from a cave temple in Pakistan called the Kashmir Smast.

Bronze coins and artefacts found in the caves and the adjacent valley indicate the existence of a sovereign kingdom in Gandhara which maintained at least partial independence for almost 500 years.

Documents presented in the court show that Khan and Lautt used their business, Indus Valley, to sell the artefacts. One shipment of artefacts was stopped at the Washington Dulles airport, Virginia, in October 2013. Ijaz and others then attempted to obtain the shipment by submitting various false and fraudulent documents.

Khan was convicted of conspiracy to defraud the United States, procurement of citizenship or naturalisation unlawfully, conspiracy to smuggle goods into the US, mail fraud and conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding.

Lautt was convicted on charges of conspiracy to defraud the US and procurement of citizenship or naturalisation unlawfully.

Published in Dawn, March 13th, 2017

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