China wants 'severe punishment' for American charged with stealing statue's thumb

20 February, 2018, 20:47 | Author: Bert Pena
  • US man breaks thumb off terracotta warrior statue; furious China demands compensation

Wu Haiyun, director of the government-run Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Center, which loaned the 2,000-year-old terracotta statue to the Franklin Institute, called on the U.S. to crack down on accused thief Michael Rohana.

He then snapped off the statue's left thumb.

He accused the Philadelphia museum of being "careless", and "strongly condemned" officials for letting the statue be defiled, the BBC reported.

"We ask that the USA severely punish the perpetrator. We have lodged a serious protest with them", said Wu Haiyun, director of the government institution, which loans out the statues.

Officials said that incident happened in December, while Rohana was at the institute for an "Ugly Sweater Party".

In a statement late Monday afternoon, The Franklin Institute expressed utmost respect for the Terracotta Warriors and deflected blame for the security lapse.

The statue Rohana allegedly defaced is called the Cavalryman and dates to around 210 B.C. The museum has said the statue valued at $4.5 million will be repaired.

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The terra-cotta warrior statues at the Franklin Institute were on loan from China for a special exhibit that began in September 2017. He has been charged with theft and concealment of a major artwork from a museum and interstate transportation of stolen property. The life-size statues were constructed to guard the tomb of China's first emperor, Qin Shi Huang. It was on display at Philadelphia's Franklin Institute when the vandalism took place.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation affidavit, museum surveillance video captured a man in a Phillies ball cap and a green sweater disregard the black rope blocking the entrance to the exhibit at 9:08 p.m.

The museum noticed the missing thumb on January 8 - more than two weeks after the alleged incident - and reported it to police.

Investigators allege the video shows Rohanna, dressed in a green sweater and a Phillies hat, sneaking into the roped-off exhibit, taking a few selfies with the statue and then breaking off and pocketing something from the statues left hand.

When FBI agent Jacob Archer went to interview Rohana and asked if he had anything "that he wanted to turn over to the FBI", Rohana handed over the thumb, which was in the desk in his bedroom.

He added that the Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Centre would be sending two experts to Philidelphia to fix the figure and that it would be seeking compensation.



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