Coronavirus fear disrupts retrial

An exterior image of the Franklin Institute
WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

In 2017, Michael Rohana, 26, a Delaware man, confessed to drunkenly breaking off the finger of a Chinese terracotta warrior statue at the Franklin Institute.

The retrial has been delayed for an unsolicited amount of time due to the coronavirus outbreak in the artifact’s native country.

According to CNN, the coronavirus has killed at least 813 worldwide. Globally, there have been 37,000 cases of the virus, with about 27,100 cases in Wuhan (considered the ground zero of the illness) alone.

Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said, “although we have not seen this virus in Philadelphia, we are taking the risk seriously and doing everything we can to protect our residents from it.”

Inquirer.com reports that a court filing on Wednesday reports that federal prosecutors said multiple Chinese witnesses are unable to travel to Philly for the retrial, which was scheduled to take place starting on Feb. 18.

They cannot arrive in Philly because they have been barred due to a new travel ban that the Trump administration put on all foreign nations who have been to China within the last two weeks.

At this time, it has not been revealed when the ban will be lifted.

The incident occurred when Rohana attended a Christmas-themed ugly sweater party in 2017. He entered a closed exhibit that had the ancient Chinese terracotta warriors. He snapped the thumb off a statue dubbed as “The Cavalryman” and he left with it.

Outlets report that the incident was filmed by surveillance cameras.

Chinese officials were outraged by the incident, whereas Rohana said it was a drunken mistake.

It was reported that in April, the jury deadlocked. His trial was on the charges of concealment of an object of cultural heritage as well as theft. Inquirer.com reports that Rohana’s first trial in April, officials from China’s Shaanxi province testified about the value of the 2,000-year-old statue as well as the history of it.

It was reported that the value of the statue is $4.5 million.

It was reported that the statue was one of the hundreds that were discovered during an excavation of the tomb of Qin Shi Huang, who was China’s first emperor. The excavations started in the 1970s.

Federal public defender Catherine Henry said within the closing statement that, “were made for art thieves — think like ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ or ‘Mission: Impossible.’”

Henry described Rohana as “…[he] wasn’t in ninja clothing sneaking around the museum. He was a drunk kid in a bright green ugly Christmas sweater.”

 

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