An American man who had broken off and stolen a finger from an ancient Chinese sculpture of a warrior put on display in a US museum was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay a GBP 4,000 fine.
Michael Rohana, 29, who previously accepted a guilty plea for snapping off the statue’s left thumb, received the sentence during a court hearing in Philadelphia, in the US State of Pennsylvania on 6th September.
The verdict came six years after Rohana committed the crime during a drunken Christmas party back in 2017 held at the Franklin Institute, where the precious terracotta statue was put on display as part of a travelling exhibition.
Although the stolen thumb was later recovered, Assistant Prosecutor K.T. Newton said his actions sparked an international incident that resulted with “permanent damage” to inter-cultural exchange.
US District Court Judge Chad F. Kenney sentenced Rohana to five years of probation and ordered him to pay a USD 5,000 (GBP 3,994) fine and complete 100 hours of community service. The compensation to be paid to the Franklin Institute, insurance companies, and the Chinese museums that house the Terracotta Warriors will be determined in a future hearing.
The judge told Rohana he was lucky he was not facing jail time, adding: “Your conduct in this case was absolutely outrageous — quite frankly, sickening.
“Everybody around the world looks at this and says, ‘Yep, that’s those Americans. No respect for nothing’.”
Rohana apologised to his family and the Chinese government, saying: “Through this incident, I understand that these archaeological artifacts should be greatly respected and not damaged.”
The statue, insured at USD 4.5 million (GBP 3.5 million), is one of the few fully restored terracotta figures part of the famous Terracotta Army, which dates back to the late 200s BC.
Discovered in 1974 near Xi’an, Shaanxi, they are funerary sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, China’s first emperor.
The collection includes detailed life-sized warriors, chariots, and horses, meant to protect the emperor in the afterlife.