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Israeli fined $2,500 for stealing stamp *LINK*

AN ISRAELI man was yesterday fined $2,500 for stealing a stamp belonging to the Trinidad and Tobago Immigration Department.

Vatang Agrunov, 26, of Tel Aviv, Israel, was ordered to pay the money forthwith or serve three months in jail. He was later released in the custody of a representative of the Israeli government, as he intends to leave Trinidad today.

When asked if he had anything to say after his release, Agrunov replied, "it was an experience, thanks Trinidad."

Agrunov was charged with stealing the stamp on November 3 from the Immigration Department on Frederick Street, Port-of-Spain.

The Israeli was represented yesterday by attorneys Israel Khan SC and Dawn Mohan.

He was arrested by police at a house at Spring Trace, Arouca. Agrunov, who served in the Israeli military, travelled to Spain and other European countries before flying to Venezuela.

The court heard that Agrunov arrived from Venezuela on October 18 and was given permission from an immigration officer at Piarco to stay until October 31.

Agrunov went to the Immigration Department in Port-of-Spain on October 27 and 28 seeking an extension of his stay in Trinidad.

Before he was given the extension, Agrunov said he was approached by a man outside the immigration office who sold him the stamp for $100.

In his plea of mitigation yesterday, Khan told the court that Agrunov did a very foolish thing, but pointed out that his client was not a criminal.

In passing sentence, the magistrate said she took into account the submissions that the accused was of good character and that he pleaded guilty at the first opportunity. However, Magistrate Gafoor said she could not reprimand and discharge the Israeli. After fining him $2,500, the magistrate ordered that the stamp be returned to the Immigration Department.

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