The cash and fake gold that no-one is claiming
Everyone knows the aircraft flew from Cairo and landed in Zambia a fortnight ago, but that’s where the certainty ends. As of yet, neither Egypt nor Zambia has admitted chartering the plane or owning its contents.
Rumours have swirled due to so many unanswered questions.
Is it possible that high-level Egyptian or Zambian political or military figures are involved? Did this flight mark the first out of hundreds to finally be rumbled?
In Lusaka, six Zambians and five Egyptians appeared at a magistrate’s court on Monday.
Smuggling and corrupt practices have been charged against both Egyptians and Zambians. The Zambians are also accused of espionage. In court was a Zambian official from State House, the president’s official residence and office. No pleas were taken.
Unless a journalist’s fact-checking website, Matsda2sh, accused Egyptian officials of involvement, the world would have remained unaware of the incident. In the dead of night, Egyptian plainclothes security forces raided Karim Asaad’s Cairo home and arrested him.
Initially, he just disappeared. There was no information as to where or why Mr Asaad had been taken.
Independent Egyptian journalists then posted documents purportedly taken from the Zambian police investigation into the cash-filled aircraft on social media.
Asaad’s allegations were reportedly backed up by arrests of three Egyptian military officers and a senior police officer.
Two days later, he was released after protests on social media, many of them from fellow journalists. Another mystery remains as to why he was arrested.
According to the Egyptian authorities, the aircraft mentioned on Mr Asaad’s website was privately owned and transited through Cairo. The country and its officials had nothing to do with the case.
Following the plane’s landing at Lusaka’s Kenneth Kaunda Airport, the spotlight shifted to Zambia. A Zambian man carrying what appeared to be gold on his back was somehow allowed to pass through security and meet the newly arrived Egyptians.
A few cash handouts appear to have eased his path, according to Zambian media reports. It is likely the suspects had difficulty explaining what they were doing with millions of dollars in cash, several pistols, 126 rounds of ammunition, and what appeared to be more than 100kg of gold bars.
There was something particularly puzzling about the gold bars. According to him, the six Egyptians were put up in a guest house while the Zambian and three other foreigners were jailed. The Zambian authorities may have been leaning on VIPs in Cairo, he suggested.
The man who allegedly carried the fake gold onto the plane has since turned whistleblower and is assisting Zambian police.
More Zambian nationals have been arrested at a makeshift gold processing plant in recent days, and more arrests are likely.
Speculation has grown as interest in the case has grown around the world.
As well as gold, they were made of copper, nickel, tin, and zinc. There is no gold in all that glitters.
The man allegedly sold a portion of the supposed gold he was carrying to the men on the plane after he climbed aboard. He was then asked for more information.