CAIRO: General Prosecutor at the city of Chemnitz, east of Germany submitted a request to the city’s court to issue a criminal decree to fine two nationals over charges of robbing and vandalizing the Great Pyramid of Giza, according to Deutsche Presse-Agentur Monday.
The action comes in response to the Egyptian authorities’ request in September to arrest Dominique Gorlitz and Stefan Erdmann, two German amateur archaeologists that allegedly entered the inner chambers of the Great Pyramid and swiped several items including the cartouche of the pharaoh Khufu.
In April 2013 during their trip to Egypt, they were able to persuade tourism officials to let them enter areas normally restricted to archaeologists such as the five inner chambers of the Giza pyramids which are closed for those without special permission, according to al-Shorouq newspaper.
In an effort to prove the Great Pyramids are 15,000 years older than they really are, the two amateur archaeologists carved off samples from the walls of the ancient burial chamber and brought them back home for analysis, according to MENA.
Attorney General Hesham Barakat referred in February nine suspects including the two German researchers and a videographer, three Antiquities Ministry inspectors, two Giza pyramids gurards and a tourism agency owner to Giza Criminal Court for seizing and facilitating seizure of artifacts from the Great Pyramid and smuggling them abroad, MENA reported.
Former Antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim has also notified Interpol and put the German archaeologists on Egypt’s airport watch list.
In December, the two German researchers apologized to the Egyptian people over the incident, saying they meant no harm and that they are ready to pay any compensation, according to MENA.
They said they obtained a few milligrams chipped of the ceiling of the burial chamber and milligrams of the red pigment of the cartouche. The purpose was purely scientific, they added.
Mohamed Abdel-Maksoud, former head of the ancient Egyptian department at the Antiquities Ministry said that the incident represented damage to one of the significant monuments on the UNESCO World Heritage List adding that both Egypt and Germany were members of the UN’s World Heritage Committee, Al Ahram reported.
The German embassy in Cairo in a press release in December denounced the action and confirmed that the two men were not affiliated with the German embassy in Cairo or the German Archaeological Institute or any official mission from Germany to Egypt.