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China's Forbidden City robber appeals jail term

(Xinhua)

08:48, March 27, 2012

BEIJING, March 26 (Xinhua) -- A Chinese man convicted of stealing art pieces from the heavily-guarded Forbidden City in Beijing appealed his sentence on Monday, demanding a 10-year reduction to his jail term, according to the court handling the case.

Shi Baikui, 27, was sentenced to 13 years in jail by the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People's Court on March 19. He broke into the Palace Museum, more popularly known as Forbidden City, last May and stole nine pieces of art works made of gold and jewels -- all on loan from Hong Kong and insured for a total of 410,000 yuan (65,000 U.S. dollars).

Huang Shiyong, Shi's lawyer, said he had submitted the appeal to the court, requesting the court to reconsider the sentence.

"There is no legal provision saying that stealing from the Forbidden City is a crime more severe than other theft," Huang said, adding that he hoped the court would reconsider, maybe to reduce the jail term to three years which would be in line with other theft convictions.

Shi was apprehended by police at an Internet cafe in Beijing's Fengtai district 58 hours after the theft.

Six pieces were recovered and the three missing were estimated to be worth 150,000 yuan (23,800 U.S. dollars) in total.

The court earlier said Shi's punishment had been meted out with leniency because he had confessed to the thefts in a candid and cooperative manner and repented for his wrongdoing.

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