CHINA: TOMB ROBBERS SENTENCED TO DEATH
May 14, 2010: Four tomb robbers were sentenced to death for stealing more than 200 relics, including 11 items listed for the state's top level of protection, from ancient tombs in central China's Hunan Province.
The death sentences were handed down at the Intermediate People's Court in Changsha, capital of Hunan, after the first-instance trial to Lin Xisheng, Liu Shengli, Long Shouyun and Liu Zhihua.
They had been convicted of robbing ancient tombs as well as concealing illegal earnings.
Liu Zhihua was given a two-year reprieve.
The court heard the four were among a 27-member gang responsible for robbing a dozen tombs near Changsha, including a tomb of the Warring States period (475-221 B.C.), from April 2008 to January 2009.
The other 23 members of the gang were also convicted and given jail terms ranging from 13 years and six months to life at the same trial.
"Police have retrieved all of the relics stolen by the gang," said Wang Lifu, a court investigator.
He said one of the stolen relics, a seal of a Changsha King, from a tomb of the Western Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D. 25 ), was under the state first-class protection.
Wang said the gang members were from several provinces, including Hunan, Shandong, Jiangxi, Shanxi and Gansu.
They had used professional prospecting equipment, digging machinery and explosives to carry out their raids.
"This is the largest tomb robbing case ever dealt with in Hunan," said Wang. (Sources: Xinhua, 14/05/2010)