Chinese official executed for stealing, selling cultural relics

Saturday, November 20, 2010

BEIJING - China has reportedly executed an official of Hebei province on Friday for stealing and selling 259 cultural relics, including many on the state protection list.

China Daily quoted the Intermediate People’s Court of Chengde city of Hebei as saying that Li Haitao, chief of the cultural relics protection authorities of the imperial garden in Chengde city of Hebei, was executed after China’s Supreme People’s Court approved the death penalty on those charges.

Li, who took advantage of his post between 1993 and 2002, was convicted for stealing 259 cultural relics from Eight Outer Temples, an imperial compound built on hillsides to the north and east of the three-century old Summer Mountain Resort, Xinhua reports.

Fifty-year-old Li reportedly replaced the relics with copies, inferior or incomplete objects and asked his subordinates to alter their archives. He sold the 259 items for over 3.2 million Yuan (482,240 dollars).

Police have seized 202 relics and the search for other 57 items are continuing.

Meanwhile, Li’s four accomplices, Wang Xiaoguang, Yan Feng, Zhang Huazhang and Chen Fengwei, had been sentenced to seven years imprisonment with fines for buying and selling the relics, the report said.

Li’s crimes were reportedly not noticed till a Chinese expert found two royal cultural relics belonging to Beijing’s Palace Museum at an auction in Hong Kong in 2002. (ANI)

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