A military court sentenced a soldier who stole a credit card and a souvenir handgun from the office of Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi to 10 years in prison yesterday.

Louis Maskuta was convicted of aggravated theft, of giving Ashkenazi's credit card details to a criminal gang with which he was in contact with at the time, and of stealing two more rifles from Israel Defense Forces headquarters in Tel Aviv.

He was also demoted from corporal to private, and ordered to pay NIS 3,500 to a soldier he attacked when stealing one of the rifles.

The court rejected claims by the defense regarding difficulties experienced by Maskuta when he immigrated to Israel, and claims he was threatened by the gang. Maskuta's lawyers said they will be studying the verdict and may appeal.

The appeal is expected to lead with the argument that the court slammed Maskuta with a harsher verdict than in cases of other soldiers convicted of similar offenses, because of the public attention attracted by his case.