Chinese Response to the Finger Trial of American Youth Stealing Terracotta Warriors and Horses

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 Chinese Response to the Finger Trial of American Youth Stealing Terracotta Warriors and Horses


On November 11, the official microblog of the State Administration of Cultural Relics said that on September 9, local courts in the United States declared invalid the judgment of American youth involved in the case of breaking and stealing the fingers of terracotta warriors and horses in the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor in 2017, because jury members disagreed on whether the defendant was guilty or not, and the jury was dissolved. The prosecution will decide whether to restart the case by May 15. In this regard, Beijing Youth Daily reporter learned from Shaanxi Cultural Relics Exchange Center on the evening of November 11 that before the final judgment of the United States, China will continue to pay attention to and follow up the progress of the case, safeguard Chinas rights and interests according to law, and firmly safeguard the dignity of Chinese cultural relics.

The finger trial of the American youth stealing terracotta warriors and horses was ruled null and void

The jury failed to rule on the charges of stealing and concealing cultural relics after 11 hours of discussion in the recent case of American man Rohana breaking and stealing the fingers of Terracotta Warriors and Horses of the Qin Shihuang Emperor, the official microblog of the State Administration of Cultural Relics said Wednesday. As the jury disagreed on whether the defendant was guilty or not, the local court ruled that the trial was null and void on the 9th and the jury was dissolved.

Seven of the 12 jurors reported that the man was not guilty. The prosecution said it would decide whether to restart the case by May 15. Rohana confessed to the crime in court, but called his behavior a foolish mistake in a drunken state. I dont know why to break it.

Officials at the Franklin Museum of Science in Philadelphia testified that the terracotta warriorsthumbs have now returned to China, but have not yet been repaired. The terracotta warriors and horses whose fingers were broken by Rohana are one of the few fully restored terracotta warriors and horses among thousands of Chinese terracotta warriors and horses, with a price guarantee of $4.5 million. The Chinese government strictly supervises the research and restoration of terracotta warriors and horses, and prohibits the sale of them. In his final statement to the jurors, Assistant U.S. Attorney Newton said: Rohanna deliberately broke his thumb, took it out of the museum and took it home. Thats theft.

Rohana faces up to 20 years in prison if the prosecutions charges are convicted, the article said.

Chinas response: resolutely safeguarding the dignity of Chinese cultural relics

On the evening of November 11, a reporter from the Beijing Qingdao newspaper learned from the Shaanxi Cultural Relics Exchange Center, which was responsible for assisting in testifying in the case. In March 2018, the prosecution of the United States Department of Justice filed a public prosecution against the case. After two postponements, the Eastern District Court of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, conducted a five-day trial on the Robana Terracotta Army finger case from April 1 to 5, 2019, and the prosecution organized and arranged nearly 30 relevant witnesses. People testified at the scene, including three Chinese personnel. In particular, China employs Chinese-American lawyers to assist witnesses to testify in court. The prosecution charged Michael Rohana with theft, concealment and trans-state transportation of works of art. During the trial, Chinese witnesses made a detailed statement on the authenticity, integrity and historical and artistic value of the damaged terracotta warriors and horses.

From April 8 to 9, the jury discussed the case for two days. Twelve members of the jury believed that the relic was unearthed from archaeological excavations and had no market transaction price, so they could not agree on the value of the damaged parts of the terracotta warriors and horses. Because of the divergence of views between the prosecution and the defence, the Justice of the East District Court of Philadelphia of the United States was unable to make a final judgment and announce the dissolution of the jury, but allowed the United States prosecution to request a retrial of the case within 30 days after the announcement of the dissolution of the jury.

The Shaanxi Cultural Relics Exchange Center said that due to the different judicial systems in China and the United States, the procedures for hearing cases are also different. Before the final judgment is made by the US side, China will continue to pay attention to and follow up the progress of the case, safeguard Chinas rights and interests according to law, and firmly safeguard the dignity of Chinese culture. The Shaanxi Cultural Relics Exchange Center, the Chinese organization involved in the exhibition, will start investigating the civil liability part according to law and make economic claims in accordance with the Exhibition Agreement.

According to the relevant provisions, the Qinshihuang Mausoleum Museum, the unit under which the cultural relics belong, has organized experts to work out a restoration plan for the damaged terracotta warriors and horses, which will be restored after the approval formalities have been fulfilled. Shaanxi Cultural Relics Exchange Center said: In the future, we will learn a profound lesson and constantly improve the safety standards of outreach cultural relics. Although this finger incident is only an occasional case in the exhibition of cultural relics, it warns us that we must raise risk awareness in an all-round way and further improve measures to ensure the safety of cultural relics in the exhibition.

Judgment or important basis for claim negotiation

In February 2018, a 24-year-old American sneaked into the closed Franklin Museum of Science in Philadelphia while attending a weekend party, snapped the fingers of a Terracotta Warrior on display in the exhibition hall and hid them in his pocket. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recently locked the young mans residence and took back stolen Chinese cultural relics.

It is reported that on December 21, 2017, 24-year-old Maqiu Rohana from Delaware came to the museum in Philadelphia for a weekend party. Video surveillance showed that at 9:15 p.m., he sneaked into a closed exhibition hall by himself, then called two friends and took them around. Rohanas friends soon left the exhibition hall, but Rohana stayed for a few minutes, took out his mobile phone and studied it carefully with a torch on a terra cotta figures finger.

He also stood on the showroom and put his arm on the shoulder of the terracotta warriors for a self-portrait. When he left the room, he broke a left thumb of the terracotta warriors and stuffed it into his left pocket. It wasnt until a few weeks later, on January 8, 2018, that museum staff discovered that the terracotta had one finger missing.

On January 13, 2018, FBI officials came to Rohanas home to ask him about the situation and asked him, Is there anything in his hand that he wants to hand over to the FBI? Rohana returned to his bedroom, took out a terra cotta figure finger from the drawer and handed it to the FBI honestly. The stolen finger was then returned to the museum. In an interview with the media, the Franklin Institution Museum in Philadelphia said there were loopholes in its security system outsourced to security service contractors. Although the exhibition hall was closed, it did not lock the door, which led to guests coming to the party to enter the closed exhibition hall.

The staff of Shaanxi Cultural Relics Exchange Center said in an interview with Beiqing Daily that they were shocked and indignant when they learned about the damage to the exhibits. They immediately launched an emergency disposal plan. They contacted the Franklin Science Museum of the United States for the first time to verify the damage to the cultural relics and condemned the United States for not informing the report in time.

Relevant officials have told the Beijing Youth Daily that the damaged terracotta warriors and horses, together with other cultural relics exhibited in Philadelphia, have completed the collection procedures in Xian, and the relevant departments will repair the damaged terracotta warriors and horses according to the approved restoration plan. In addition, the courts judgment will be an important basis for claims negotiation.

Source: Beijing Headline Responsible Editor: Gu Ying_NN6577