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Court rejects appeal of 'master' tomb raider

By Cheng Si | China Daily | Updated: 2017-12-01 08:22

The Liaoning High People's Court has dismissed the appeal of a convicted tomb robber and confirmed his original sentence of death with a two-year reprieve, Xinhua News Agency reported on Wednesday.

Yao Yuzhong, the 55-year-old ringleader of a gang, was found guilty of robbery, digging up ancient tombs of historical value and selling relics stolen from the Hongshan cultural relics protection region.

He was originally sentenced by the Chaoyang Intermediate People's Court of Liaoning province in April 2016.

"Yao was unhappy with the judgment at the time. He denied all the accusations and pleaded not guilty," said Bi Baosheng, Yao's attorney.

Yao Yufei, the younger brother of Yao Yuzhong, and seven other gang members received life sentences.

In May 2015, the Ministry of Public Security said that more than 200 suspects from 12 criminal groups involved had been detained, and 2,063 relics worth more than 500 million yuan ($76 million) had been recovered. It said it was the largest grave-robbery case in modern China.

Born in Ningcheng county of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, Yao had been a tomb raider for more than 30 years and was touted in the area as a "master" who could locate graves using stars and a compass.

In addition to raiding tombs themselves, gang members offered "one stop" services to help others dig up sites. The gang offered equipment, tomb investigation and sales, according to a statement issued by Chaoyang Intermediate People's Court.

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