A mistrial was declared in a case which saw a drunk man steal the thumb of a Chinese Terracotta warrior that was on loan to a museum in the USA.
Michael Rohana, 25, admitted to breaking off a thumb from a $4.5 million dollar specimen of a Terracotta warrior during a party at the Franklin Institute Museum in Philadelphia in 2017. He was reportedly drunk when he did so.
He was charged with the theft and concealment of an object of cultural heritage — which could have landed him up to 30 years in jail.
Public defence lawyer Catherine C. Henry argued that the charges laid were devised for art thieves, not for a drunk kid at an “ugly sweater party.”
On December 21, 2017, a drunk Rohana entered the exhibit housing 10 Terracotta warriors. He took a selfie with one of the warriors and pried off its left thumb and placed it in his pocket before leaving.
Investigations were only launched two weeks after the incident when someone realized a thumb was missing. The FBI was put on the case and were able to identify and locate Rohana and retrieve the missing thumb.
During the trial, Rohana claimed that he did not know why he had taken the thumb and called it a “stupid mistake.”
The jury was unable to reach a verdict, leading to the judge declaring a mistrial. Prosecutors will decide by May if they will want to retry the case.
An unnamed official from the Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Center called for severe punishment for Rohana in 2018, as he had caused destruction to one of China’s most valued national treasures.