Chinese leaders take aim at Franklin Institute for vandalism of ancient statue

In China Terracota Warrior Thumb Theft Triggers Outrage

The life-size statues were constructed to guard the tomb of China's first emperor, Qin Shi Huang.

The director of the Shannxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Centre was "shocked and enraged" by the incident, according to a statement it issued, and criticised the Franklin Institute for not notifying it quickly about the incident. The statues are on display at the museum until March 4.

The stolen thumb was found broken when this terracotta warrior was excavated, but the fracture had been repaired before the statue went on exhibition in the USA, the centre said, and the missing thumb was snapped from the exact repaired place.

"We call on the American side to severely punish the person who committed this destruction and theft of mankind's cultural heritage", the official told a newspaper affiliated with the Communist Party. There he chose to take a selfie with one of the statues and, willingly or not, broke one of its fingers off and took it with him. He was allegedly caught on camera taking a selfie with his arm draped over the shoulder of one of the statues and then snapping the thumb off one of the priceless statues, known as "The Cavalryman".

Museum staff noticed the missing thumb on 8 January and the Federal Bureau of Investigation later traced it to Mr Rohana.

Authorities said the man, later identified as Michael Rohana, then went for a more permanent memento. He has been released on a US$15,000 bail and has handed over his passport.

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Franklin Institute staff didn't discover that the thumb was missing until January 8, according to the affidavit.

Rohana allegedly attended the party with five friends, one of whom told investigators she heard the suspect mention the thumb on the ride home, according to USA Today. The FBI traced it to Rohana five days later.

Rohana took the agent upstairs and showed him the missing thumb, which he pulled out of his desk drawer, the affidavit said.

One of the famous terracotta warriors lost a finger in the incident.

Wu said the center would send two experts to Franklin to check the damage and fix the thumb - and that there'd be a claim for compensation.

A spokeswoman for the museum said that the statue will be repaired, adding that a security contractor did not follow standard procedures the night of the alleged theft.

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