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The case has political implications in Italy because even before the theft was discovered, the Italian government was widely criticized by historians and bibliophiles for appointing Mr. de Caro as head of the library. They said he was not qualified — particularly after the media published stories claiming Mr. de Caro’s academic credentials were false. They said he also was not the Count of Lampedusa, as he had styled himself.

It has come out during the trial that he was responsible for several heists from other libraries — notably a 1606 book by Galileo, “Le Operazione del compasso geometrico e militate” (“The Operations of the Geometric and Military Compass”), dedicated to Cosimo II de Medici, the ruler of Tuscany.

Only two copies of the book were known to exist in Italy, one in the library of the University of Padua, and the other in the abbey of Monte Cassino. Mr. de Caro is accused of stealing both.