AN electrician has gone on trial accused of stealing a manuscript described as Europe’s first ever travel guide.
The Codex Calixtinus – a 12th century document offering travel advice to those following the Camino de Santiago as well as sermons and homilies to Saint James – went missing from Santiago de Compostela cathedral in July 2011 and was found a year later in the garage of the cathedral’s former electrician.
Prosecutors say that Jose Manuel Fernandez Castiñeiras took the precious manuscript in what was dubbed the theft of the century by Spanish media. Police have said that they found the codex in “good condition” in the garage, along with more than €1 million and other ancient books missing from the cathedral.
Castiñeiras had worked at the cathedral for more than 25 years and was made redundant in 2011. He was suing for wrongful dismissal at the time the codex disappeared and admitted to stealing the priceless artefact.
He is now facing charges of theft and money laundering, with Spanish prosecutors calling for a 15-year jail sentence and a fine of €300,000. More than 60 witnesses are expected to be called at the trial. Castiñeiras’s lawyers say that he was coerced into confessing the theft and that the investigating judge was not impartial.