The Libyan-British lawyer Mohammed bin Shaaban has launched a campaign to reclaim 2,000-years-old Roman relics from the grounds of Windsor Castle in the UK after he became the first Libyan to obtain a license as a lawyer to the UK supreme court.
Bin Shaaban seeks to restore the columns of Leptis Magna, the historical city located between Tripoli and Sirte. The columns were stolen from the temple of Augustus in 1817 by British imperial officers Hanmer Warrington and William Henry Smyth.
Bin Shaaban is representing the state of Libya and the Libyan Ministry of Culture in pursuing the return of the architectural remains, which currently lie on the crown estate, managed by the National Trust.
Speaking to the New Arab news website, he said, "We've told the crown: If you have evidence that these Roman antiquities were legally removed from Libya, then please provide it. If you don’t, please return them to Libya."
The legal team behind the Leptis Magna campaign said they have learned from experts that the remains are at risk of critical damage due to prolonged exposure to British weather.
“The marble from which these columns were made is not made for British weather. They’re not being looked after more here. The original stoneworkers used material better suited to Libyan weather. It’s next to a lake in the south of England, but it was built for the desert," Bin Shaaban said.
The legal team lobbying the crown has had little response, says Bin Shaaban, who believes that the crown is “just batting us back, hoping we’ll go away”.