China court sentences six Uighurs to death

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The Independent Online

A court in China's far western Xinjiang region sentenced six men to death yesterday for murder and other crimes committed during ethnic riots that killed nearly 200 people.

A seventh man was given life imprisonment. The sentences were the first for any of the scores of suspects arrested in the July rioting between Muslim Uighurs and members of the Han Chinese majority in the regional capital of Urumqi.

It was China's worst communal violence in decades. The verdicts appeared to be aimed at placating Han Chinese who have rallied in Urumqi calling for swift justice. Xinjiang has been under heavy security since the unrest, and state TV showed paramilitary troops in riot gear surrounding the courthouse yesterday.

The official Xinhua News Agency said seven people were convicted of murder, and some were also convicted of arson and robbery. The names of the convicted men appeared to identify them as Uighurs.

Police have said that hundreds of people were detained following the rioting in Urumqi that the government says killed 197 people and injured more than 1,700. The violence flared on 5 July after police broke up a protest by young Uighurs demanding an investigation into a deadly brawl between Han and Uighur workers at a toy factory thousands of miles away in southern China.