Germans convicted of stealing from Egypt's Great Pyramid

CAIRO (AFP) - An Egyptian court sentenced three Germans and six Egyptians to five years' jail on Tuesday for stealing fragments of a pharaonic artefact from Cairo's Great Pyramid, a judicial source said.

A court in Giza, south of the capital, sentenced in absentia three Germans - who had claimed they were researchers - for stealing pieces of an ancient scroll bearing the name of the Pharaoh Khufu as well as rock samples, the source said.

The Great Pyramid - also known as the Pyramid of Cheops - is the biggest and most famous of the three Giza pyramids.

It houses the tomb of Pharaoh Khufu, and is the only surviving one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

Six Egyptians, including three employees of the antiquities ministry, two pyramid guards and the director of a travel agency, were also jailed for five years for aiding the robbery, the source said.

The crime was discovered at the end of 2013 by Egyptian authorities, who announced in August that the missing fragments had been recovered.

The judicial source said that the German researchers took the scroll pieces in order to determine their age and bolster an unorthodox theory that the pyramids may be several millenia older than the construction period accepted by most Egyptologists.

The source said the court also ordered and enquiry to determine the role in the theft of Egypt's former head of antiquities, Zawi Hawass.

"These remarks are totally unfounded," Hawass told AFP.

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