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Senior officials jailed for three years over Cairo Van Gogh heist

Eleven Egyptian officials including the head of the culture ministry's fine arts department were convicted of negligence and jailed for three years Tuesday, after a $50 million dollar Van Gogh painting was stolen in August from a Cairo museum.


AFP - A senior Egyptian cultural official was among 11 people jailed for three years on Tuesday for negligence after the theft of a Van Gogh painting from a Cairo museum, a judicial source said.

Vincent Van Gogh's "Poppy Flowers," also known as "Vase with Flowers," was stolen in August in a brazen daytime heist from the Mahmud Khalil museum in a case that highlighted major security lapses in cultural institutions.

The head of the culture ministry's fine arts sector, Mohsen Shaalan, and Reem Bahir, the museum's director, as well as nine other officials were convicted of negligence.

The Dutch masterpiece, valued at more than 50 million dollars (36.1 million euros), was cut out of its frame.

Investigations found that the museum had reduced the number of guards and that most of the surveillance cameras were not working.

Prosecutor Abdel Meguid Mahmud has said each painting in the museum, which also has works by Monet and Renoir, had an alarm but that none of them worked.

The painting, of yellow and red flowers in a vase, was stolen before in 1977, but recovered the following year.

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