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December 1, 2017

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Sentence of death for grave robber

A GRAVE robber who made a 30-year career out of robbing historical burial sites in China has been sentenced to death.

A native of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, 55-year-old Yao Yuzhong was found guilty of “digging ancient cultural sites and ancient graves” and “reselling cultural relics,” his lawyer Bi Baosheng said.

Yao was given a suspended death penalty with a two-year period in which to appeal the sentence or have it decreased through good behavior.

Yao was considered the kingpin of a gang of 225 grave-robbing suspects rounded up by authorities in 2015, news website The Paper reported.

Though Yao had only an elementary school education, he was an avid reader and picked up the tradition of trawling tombs from his father, according to local media in northeast China’s Liaoning Province, where Yao was tried.

Yao reportedly got his start combing graves dating back to the Neolithic Hongshan culture. Such graves are shallow and rely more on the raider’s ability to perceive excavation sites than on his digging skills, The Paper said.

According to the country’s State Administration of Cultural Heritage, there were 103 cases of tomb-raiding and cultural relic theft in 2016.


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