As more people are coming forward denouncing decades of corruption in Yemen, sources who wished to remain anonymous told Bikyamasr.com that former French diplomats posted in Sana’a were involved in trafficking and smuggling antiques in Yemen.
The source said that former diplomats, including Pascal Burel, a former French Consul, would purchase the precious antiques for foreign collectors and use their diplomatic immunity to smuggle the goods out of the state without being disturbed by authorities.
Traffickers from the province of Ibb and Hodeidah reported that “it is quite common for foreign diplomats to be involved in such business. We dealt with the French before, on several occasions.”
The men recalled that a couple of years ago a small gold statuette had been sold to a European collector through French channels. They refused to give the name of the parties, however, only noting that “everyone in the Embassy knows about him.”
It is important to note that although the testimonies were many, Bikya Masr could not obtain any receivable physical evidence which could prove the definite involvement of French diplomats in antiques trafficking.
After a few discreet enquiries, our reporters, however, discovered further damaging allegations against the French Embassy, as accounts come forward of visas and scholarships sold as embezzlement and abuse of power.
“You should hear what Omar, a man working directly with the Consulate, has to say about the diplomats activities, he has been working there for more than a decade and he could write a book,” said Ahmed, a former employee of the Foreign Ministry.
Although the scandal could be based on simple “hearsay,” the sheer gravity of such accounts raise some serious questions over the integrity of foreign diplomats.