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Mistrial of the terracotta warrior finger thief upsets Chinese internet

(People's Daily Overseas New Media)    15:46, April 11, 2019

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The case of a man who broke a finger of a terracotta warrior and brought it home from an exhibition in the US state of Pennsylvania last year on Tuesday ended in mistrial, upsetting the Chinese internet, calling it unfair and prejudiced.

The defendant, Michael Rohana, had confessed to breaking off and bringing home a finger of a terracotta warrior during an exhibition last year at the Franklin Institute, a museum in Pennsylvania.

However, his lawyers argued that the man had been inappropriately charged.

“These charges were made for art thieves — think like Ocean’s Eleven or Mission: Impossible,” a lawyer was quoted as saying by The Philadelphia Inquirer, describing Rohana as a “drunk kid.”

While assistant US Attorney K.T. Newton hit back at the excuses, arguing that it is still theft, five of the 12 jurors also claimed a 7-5 split in favor of acquittal, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The incident took place when 10 terracotta warrior statues were on loan from China at the museum for a special exhibition. As each of the statues dates back to at least 209 BC in the era of the first Chinese emperor some 2,000 years ago, the terracotta warriors have long been considered one of the best national treasures of China.

Many netizens were angered by the incident and had demanded a fair judgment on the irreversible damage on the national treasure. The result of a mistrial and the jury’s acquittal preference has now reignited the Chinese internet.

On Sina Weibo, the news has received over 30 million views, with multiple comments accusing the jury of prejudice against Chinese culture and treasures.

“What if a piece of the bell of Independence Hall were taken home by some drunk person? Will you also call it inappropriate in a theft trial?” asked one netizen.

Some even suggested that national treasures of Chinese cultural relics should not be on loan to the US any more.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Jiang Jie, Bianji)

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