Cairo: Egypt's culture minister has backtracked on a claim that two Italians were arrested with a Van Gogh painting stolen earlier, blaming a subordinate for giving "inaccurate" information.
"The information ... came from ... Mohsen Shaalan. Despite Shaalan receiving confirmation that the painting was retrieved, the information was inaccurate," the ministry said in a statement.
Culture Minister Farouq Hosni had earlier told reporters and Egypt's official MENA news agency that the work identified as Poppy Flowers and valued at more than USD 50 million, was found with two Italians in Cairo airport hours after its theft from a city museum.
Hosni had earlier said the museum, located in the middle and upper class district of Dokki on the Nile and which also has works by Monet, Renoir and Degas, was visited by only ten people yesterday.
Italy's domestic ANSA news agency, citing what it called "information gathered at the scene," said the two Italians were young and that they had visited the museum with a group of Spanish and Russian tourists.
Police officials questioned museum employees and visitors after the theft and reviewed security camera footage.
First Published: Sunday, August 22, 2010, 10:43