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Jail for spur of the moment theft at Forbidden City thief

By Li Qian (Shanghai Daily)

08:26, March 20, 2012

A CHINESE farmer who stole nine exhibits from the Palace Museum in Beijing's Forbidden City was yesterday jailed for 13 years.

Shi Baikui, 28, a native of eastern Shandong Province, was also fined 13,000 yuan (US$2,056) at the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People's Court.

The court said the robbery at the museum was "by destructive means" but gave Shi a lenient sentence because he had confessed at an earlier hearing.

Shi seemed relieved when he heard the verdict as he had expected a more harsh punishment.

"He considered he would be sentenced to death at first," his lawyer Huang Changyong, told the Legal Evening News yesterday.

But Huang said the penalty was still too harsh and he was trying to persuade Shi to lodge an appeal seeking a lighter sentence.

"It was just a normal theft except for the location," Huang said, arguing that the court should have sentenced Shi to less than three years.

"However, it still depends on him whether to make an appeal," the lawyer said.

Shi insisted he had acted on "the spur of the moment" and that the theft hadn't been planned.

"The idea of theft occurred to me while I was seeking shelter there from the rain," Shi said. This, the newspaper report said, was one of the reasons why the court had been more lenient than expected.

Shi sneaked into the Palace Museum on the night of May 8 last year and stole nine jewelry boxes, including gold purses and jewel-encrusted mirrored compacts on loan from the Hong Kong Liang Yi Museum.

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