Cairo: Egypt`s top prosecutor ordered on Monday the detention of the deputy culture minister for four days in connection to the theft of a Vincent van Gogh painting, the state owned news agency reported.
Thieves made off with the canvas, known by the titles of "Poppy Flowers" and "Vase with Flowers," on Saturday from the Mahmoud Khalil Museum in Cairo. None of the museum`s alarms and only seven of 43 surveillance cameras were working at the time of the robbery.
Prosecutor General Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud ordered the detention of Deputy Culture Minister Mohsen Shalaan, along with four security guards, for neglect and professional delinquency, according to the Middle East News Agency.
No formal charges have been filed.
According to MENA, investigation revealed lax security measures and careless museum officials.
The prosecutor implicated Shalaan in the theft because he has "a permanent office inside the museum and he enjoys the minister`s authority in handling all financial and administrative affairs of the museum."
Shalaan, according to the investigation, "neglected his duties and didn`t improve lax security measures by replacing the broken cameras and alarms."
The guards were also accused of neglect for not checking the museum visitors.
The prosecutor said that his office had warned Egypt`s museums last year to implement stricter security controls after nine paintings were stolen from another Cairo institute, the Mohammed Ali Museum. Similar security lapses were to blame in that theft.
The van Gogh painting is worth an estimated $50 million.
This is the second time the painting by the Dutch-born postimpressionist has been stolen from the Khalil museum. Thieves first made off with the canvas in 1978, before authorities recovered it two years later at an undisclosed location in Kuwait.
The 12-inch-by-12-inch (30-centimer-by-30-centimeter) canvas, believed to have been painted in 1887, resembles a flower scene by the French artist Adolphe Monticelli, whose work deeply affected van Gogh. The Monticelli painting also is part of the Khalil collection.