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Codex thief of Santiago jailed for ten years

Fiona Govan · 18 Feb 2015, 14:43

Published: 18 Feb 2015 14:43 GMT+01:00

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Manuel Fernández Castiñeiras was found guilty of the “theft of the century” – as it was dubbed by Spanish media at the time – for the stealing the 12th century tome from the safe at the pilgrimage site.

The Codex Calixtinus is considered to be the world´s first guide book as it contains advice for walking the famous pilgrimage of the Camino de Santiago as well as liturgies and reports on miracles performed by Saint James.

The former handyman who had worked at the cathedral for 25 years before being made redundant admitted to stealing the precious artefact in 2011 after investigators discovered the tome wrapped in a bin bag and hidden in his garage beneath some rubbish.

Police also found other valuable manuscripts that had been taken from the cathedral archives as well as more than €1.7m in cash which they believe had been squirreled away over many years.

The discovery was made a year after the holy book was found to be missing, a theft that highlighted lax security at the cathedral. Five security cameras were installed at the library of the cathedral but none of them were directed at the safe where the most precious artifacts were stored.

What´s more staff had reported seeing the keys to the safe dangling from the lock at the time the Codex went missing forcing a review of the entire security system.

Castiñeiras was sentenced by a judge on Wednesday to ten years in prison for theft and money laundering. His wife was given a suspended sentence of six months for colluding in the crime.

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Fiona Govan (fiona.govan@thelocal.com)

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