The former electrician who was jailed for stealing a 12th-century manuscript described as Europe’s first travel guide from a Spanish cathedral in 2011 has been released from prison early for medical reasons.
Manuel Fernandez Castineiras was sentenced to eight years and two months in prison for stealing one of Spain’s most important cultural treasures, the Codex Calixtinus.
The 12th-century manuscript, described as Europe’s first travel guide, was taken from the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain in July 2011.
According to local media, the 70-year-old prisoner suffered a brain haemorrhage at the A Lama prison in May and needed to be hospitalised in the city of Vigo, both in the north-western region of Galicia.
The prison asked for his release earlier this month and the General Directorate of Prison Administration accepted the request on humanitarian grounds, according to reports. The details of the medical reasons are currently unclear.
Castineiras used to work at the cathedral as an electrician and he was arrested in July 2012 after the Codex Calixtinus was located in his garage, one year after it had disappeared.
According to local media, he was initially sentenced to 10 years in prison with a 268,425-EUR (237,750-GBP) fine, but the Supreme Court of Spain reduced his prison term to nine years in 2015.
Castineiras’ sentence was reduced to eight years and two months 10 months later.
There have been no further updates on his condition following the brain haemorrhage four months ago.
The Codex Calixtinus is considered the main witness for the 12th-century ‘Liber Sancti Jacobi’ or ‘Book of Saint James’.
Its estimated completion date is between 1138 and 1145 AD.
‘Europe’s first travel guide’ was intended to be an anthology of information and advice for pilgrims following the Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James) to the shrine of Saint James the Great located in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.