What laws are used to protect foreign cultural relics when the fingers of Terracotta Warriors and Horses are broken in the United States?

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 What laws are used to protect foreign cultural relics when the fingers of Terracotta Warriors and Horses are broken in the United States?


Michael Rohana, a 24-year-old American man, broke and stole the fingers of the Terracotta Warriors and Horses of the Chinese Emperor Qin Shihuang on display at the Philadelphia Museum after a jury disagreed on whether the defendant was guilty. The local court ruled Tuesday that the trial was invalid and the jury was dissolved. The prosecution said it would decide whether to restart the case by May 15.

The jury is an important conviction institution in the judiciary of British and American countries. In most states of the United States, whether guilty or innocent, jurors must vote to reach an agreement before they are valid. The jury deliberated for 11 hours on whether Rohana should be convicted. Seven of the 12 jurors found the man innocent.

The main reasons for the jurys difficulty in reaching an agreement on guilt or innocence even though Rohana confessed to breaking off the terracotta warriorsfingers and bringing them home may be as follows: first, some members of the jury believed that serious drunkenness made it difficult for Rohana to identify the theft nature of his actions at that time; second, the negligence of the staff of the exhibition hall led to Rohanas negligence of work. Perhaps the value of the terracotta warriors and horses on display is not well understood.

So, after the failure of prosecution, can the local prosecution bring criminal charges again? According to the litigation system of most states in the United States, cases where jury members are difficult to reach agreement will become pending cases in the sense of procedural law, that is, the defendant is neither guilty nor innocent. The prosecutor can request the re-election of jurors and re-incorporate them into the new trial procedure.

However, if prosecutors want to make breakthroughs in the new trial process, I am afraid the key is to find ways to produce enough evidence to prove that Rohana is intentionally stealing and hiding cultural heritage.

The damaged terracotta warriors and horses are one of the few fully restored terracotta warriors and horses among thousands of terracotta warriors and horses in China. They are of great cultural and artistic value. Although we can not interfere with the judicial process in the United States at present, we can still do some constructive thinking according to our laws.

According to the provisions of the Criminal Law of China, the jurisdiction of criminal cases generally includes three categories: territorial jurisdiction (cases occur within the territory of China), personal jurisdiction (offenders are Chinese citizens) and protective jurisdiction (foreigners commit crimes against Chinese citizens abroad). These three principles of jurisdiction seem to be difficult to provide the basis for the jurisdiction of Chinese law in this case.

However, our Criminal Law also stipulates the principle of universal jurisdiction. That is to say, our country can exercise criminal jurisdiction within the scope of treaty obligations for crimes stipulated in international treaties that our country has concluded or participated in. However, according to this principle, serious international crimes are often pursued. It may be difficult for individuals to steal and destroy a small amount of cultural relics and works of art.

Nevertheless, the terracotta warriors and horses as a cultural treasure of all mankind, the American Rohanas behavior of breaking and hiding the fingers of terracotta warriors and horses has been explicitly prohibited in the Convention for the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage, to which China is a party. If both China and the United States are parties, China has the right to ask the United States to fulfil its obligations under the treaty and to hold it accountable. At least we can take this opportunity to consult with the American judiciary and urge them to hold suspects criminally accountable. In addition, this case also serves as a warning for us to exhibit precious cultural relics abroad: when concluding relevant agreements with exhibition countries, in addition to civil damages, we can consider adding criminal liability clauses to avoid inadequate accountability. As for foreigners who have seriously damaged precious cultural relics and works of art, once they enter China, China can take appropriate measures to hold them accountable. Source: Qian Mingxiao_NBJ10675, responsible editor of Beijing Newspaper

Nevertheless, the terracotta warriors and horses as a cultural treasure of all mankind, the American Rohanas behavior of breaking and hiding the fingers of terracotta warriors and horses has been explicitly prohibited in the Convention for the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage, to which China is a party. If both China and the United States are parties, China has the right to ask the United States to fulfil its obligations under the treaty and to hold it accountable. At least we can take this opportunity to consult with the American judiciary and urge them to hold suspects criminally accountable.

In addition, this case also serves as a warning for us to exhibit precious cultural relics abroad: when concluding relevant agreements with exhibition countries, in addition to civil damages, we can consider adding criminal liability clauses to avoid inadequate accountability. As for foreigners who have seriously damaged precious cultural relics and works of art, once they enter China, China can take appropriate measures to hold them accountable.