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

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Chinese authorities are demanding "severe punishment" for a man who allegedly stole a terra-cotta warrior statue's thumb on display in the US, according to China's state-owned Xinhua news agency.

Rohana proceeded to take selfies with the 2,000-year-old statue, known as "The Calvaryman", then snapped off the left thumb and walked away, authorities said.

Surveillance video shows the guest alone with "a priceless part of China's cultural heritage", reported Archer, a member of the FBI's Art Crime Team.

Museum workers first noticed the warrior's damaged hand on 8 January this year with the Federal Bureau of Investigation tracing the incident to Mr Rohana.

The 24-year-old allegedly touched the left hand of the statue and is said to have broken off a piece, pocketed it and left. Rohana, who was released on bail, is also charged with transporting stolen property through state lines.

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The historical significance of the statues to Chinese culture can't be overstated.

The terracotta army is a group of life-sized statues depicting the armies of the first Emperor of China that were buried with him in 210 BCE.

"We call on the American side to severely punish the person who committed this destruction and theft of mankind's cultural heritage", an unidentified official told the newspaper, adding that two experts would be sent to the fix the thumb.

Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Centre, which arranged the loan of 10 of the statues, "strongly condemned" the theft, according to a report in the Beijing Youth Daily.

"We ask that the USA severely punish the perpetrator", Haiyun said. "We have lodged a serious protest with them", Mr Wu said. There would be a claim for compensation, he added.

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"We have almost 40 years' experience in sending artefacts overseas for exhibition ..."

"As a result of this incident, we have thoroughly reviewed our security protocol and procedures, and have taken appropriate action where needed", she said.

Now a United Nations world heritage site, they were discovered by a Chinese farmer in 1974 in Shaanxi province, according to the Franklin Institute's exhibit page.

The Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Center has organized over 260 overseas exhibitions over the past 40 years, and has never come across a situation such as this, said an official with the center. We will continue to cooperate fully with our partners in China to maintain and protect the warriors with the utmost care and reverence.

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