Alleged Scientific Institute manuscripts seized before smuggling
A man displays a burned document at the Scientific Institute in Decmeber 2011 - Reuters

CAIRO: A large consignment of old books and manuscripts allegedly stolen from the Scientific Institute, which was burned down during protests in 2011, was seized at a land port on Cairo-Suez Road, Youm7 reported.

A committee from the Ministry of Antiquities will inspect the consignment to confirm whether they are genuine. Some of them were allegedly stolen from the Egyptian National Library and Archives.

As officers at the port were searching the shipment, the manuscripts, dating back to “hundreds of years,” were found; they were planned to be shipped and sold abroad, according to Youm7.

They also discovered that they were stolen from the Scientific Institute; it had been torched in December 2011 during demonstrations that were a usual occurrence at the time.  It was renovated at the expense of the United Arab Emirates, but thousands of priceless manuscripts, historical atlases and maps had already been destroyed or lost.

A total of 230 defendants, including activist Ahmed Doma, were sentenced in February 2015 to life in prison for their “role” in the arson. They were also fined 17 million EGP ($2.1, million;) the sentence is not final.

The Scientific Institute was founded in 1798 and contained some 200,000 rare and precious documents.

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