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Pope Declares Death Penalty Inadmissible in All Cases

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ROME — Pope Francis has declared the death penalty inadmissible in all cases because it is “an attack” on the “dignity of the person,” the Vatican announced on Thursday, in a definitive shift in Roman Catholic teaching that could put enormous pressure on lawmakers and politicians around the world.
Francis, who has spoken out against capital punishment before — including in 2015 in an address to Congress — added the change to the Catechism, the collection of beliefs for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.
The revision says the church would work “with determination” for the abolition of capital punishment worldwide.
“I think this will be a big deal for the future of the death penalty in the world,” said John Thavis, a Vatican expert and author. “People who work with prisoners on death row will be thrilled, and I think this will become a banner social justice issue for the church,” he added.
Sergio D’Elia, the secretary of Hands Off Cain, an association that works to abolish capital puni…

China's 'master' tomb raider gets death penalty

Chinese grave
BEIJING (AFP) - A Chinese court has handed a death sentence to a "master" tomb raider from northern China who made a 30-year career out of robbing historical burial sites.

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, told AFP.

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

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

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 north-east Liaoning province, where Yao was tried.

The practice is a timeworn one in China, a country whose long history and elaborate burial customs have made it ripe territory for coffin-crashers.

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.

He steadily built a reputation as a "master" tomb-raider - "the best in all of China's north-east", the news outlet said.

China has seen an upsurge in grave-robbing incidents coinciding with rising demand for Chinese antiquities.

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

Source: Agence France-Presse, November 30, 2017


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