Germany returns historic books stolen from Italian libraries

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German prosecutors say they will return to Italy more than 500 historic books, including original editions of works by Galileo Galilei and Nicolas Copernicus, that were seized in Munich after being stolen from Italian libraries.

Munich prosecutors said today that the books, dating largely from the 16th and 17th centuries and estimated to be worth at least USD 2.8 million, will be handed over to Italian judicial authorities on Friday.

The books were seized at a Munich auction house in May 2012 at the request of Naples prosecutors.

An ongoing Italian investigation has determined that they were stolen between June 2011 and April 2012 from various Italian libraries, particularly Naples’ Girolamini library.

Authorities have determined the origin of all but one of the 543 books.