By JOHN HALL FOR MAILONLINE
PUBLISHED: 12:22 GMT, 12 November 2014 | UPDATED: 14:14 GMT, 12 November 2014
An Egyptian court has sentenced nine people to five years in prison for stealing an ancient scroll and rock samples from the world famous Great Pyramid.
Three Germans claimed to be researchers to steal rock samples and fragments of a scroll bearing the name Pharaoh Khufu, according to sources at a court in Giza, south of the capital Cairo.
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 three Germans were sentenced in absentia, having left Egypt after the events at the centre of the case.
Germany has no extradition treaty with Egypt and it is unclear whether the three men will ever serve their sentence.
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' had taken the scroll fragments 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.
One of the convicted Germans, 47-year-old Dominique Goerlitz who describes himself as an independent 'experimental archaeologist,' has not denied taking the samples.
He previously said that 'it has never been logically clarified how Bronze Age people 4,600 years ago' could have built the pyramid.
A schoolteacher by trade, eight years ago Goerlitz tried to prove that a type of reed boat used 6,000 years ago could cross the Atlantic.
His vessel, the Abora III, sank after 2,400 miles and 56 days at sea.
It is expected that the six Egyptian men convicted in the case will launch an appeal against their sentences.
As the three German men were convicted in absentia, they are entitled to a complete retrial if they are ever taken into Egyptian custody.
The Great Pyramid - also known as the Pyramid of Cheops - is the largest and most famous of the three Giza pyramids.
It houses the tomb of Pharaoh Khufu, and is the only one of the seven wonders of the ancient world that still survives.
Source: Daily Mail
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