China sentences three more Uighurs to death over Xinjiang riots
China sentenced three people to death today over murders committed during riots in the western Xinjiang region in July, bringing the number of people facing the death penalty for the riots to nine.
Nearly 200 people were killed when riots erupted in the regional capital of Urumqi, with Muslim Uighurs attacking members of China's dominant Han ethnic group. It was the country's worst communal violence in decades.
The official Xinhua news agency said three new defendants were sentenced to death by the Urumqi intermediate people's court and three others were sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve â€“ a penalty usually commuted to life in prison.
One of the condemned men appeared to be Han Chinese based on his name, Han Junbo, and was convicted of beating a Uighur man to death, Xinhua said. The others had Uighur names, except for one defendant sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve whose name was not included in the report.
Five others were given prison terms, it said, without providing details.
On Monday, six Uighur defendants were sentenced to death by the same court. Those sentences were the first to be handed down in the trials of scores of suspects arrested during and after the riots.
The violence flared on 5 July after police broke up a protest by Uighur youths demanding an investigation into a deadly brawl between Han and Uighur workers at a toy factory in southern China.
Angry Uighurs attacked random bystanders in Urumqi, an overwhelmingly Han city in the heart of the Uighurs' traditional homeland. Two days later, Han carried out revenge attacks in Uighur neighbourhoods as security forces struggled to restore order.
The Chinese government has blamed the rioting on overseas-based groups agitating for more Uighur rights in Xinjiang. Beijing has presented no direct evidence, and overseas Uighur activists have denied supporting violence.
One of those figures blamed by Beijing, the World Uighur Congress leader, Rebiya Kadeer, condemned the earlier sentences, saying the accused had been denied due legal process and warning the court's actions could stir new unrest.
Kadeer has denied any role in the protests and denounced the use of violence.
Swift punishment of those arrested over the rioting were among the demands of Han protesters who swarmed into Urumqi's streets early last month calling for the firing of Xinjiang's powerful Communist party boss, Wang Lequan. Five people died in the protests under circumstances that remain unclear.
China | Politics | 2009-10-15 | guardian.co.uk