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Man sentenced to two years for 19th century book theft from Tartu library

University of Tartu Library.
University of Tartu Library. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Foreign national Beqa Tsirekidze was on Monday found guilty by Tartu County Court in the theft of eight valuable books from the University of Tartu Library in spring 2022, and sentenced to two years in prison plus expulsion from Estonia.

Tsirekidze was convicted of larceny committed on a large-scale basis and by a group, according to a court press release. The court had first sentenced him to three years in prison, but reduced the sentence by one third in accordance with the Penal Code, as the case was handled under abridged procedure.

In an ancillary sentence, he was also ordered to leave Estonia and issued a five-year ban on reentry.

The county court likewise satisfied the civil suit brought by the University of Tartu (TÜ), ordering Tsirekidzelt to pay €158,000 in material damages, as well as €2,712 in legal costs.

The Southern District Prosecutor's Office had accused Georgian citizen Beqa Tsirekidzet of registering as a reader at the University of Tartu Library using false details and in April 2022 stealing eight valuable books from the library together with a yet-unidentified suspect.

The stolen volumes in question, which were swapped out for counterfeits, included original works dating back to the 19th century by Russian writers Alexander Pushkin and Nikolai Gogol.

The ruling has not yet entered into force.

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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