International - POSTED: 2009/10/13 13:23
A court in China's far western Xinjiang region has sentenced six men to death for murder and other crimes committed during ethnic riots that killed nearly 200 people. A seventh man was given life imprisonment.
The sentences Monday 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 names of the convicted men seemed to identify them as Uighurs. The verdicts appeared aimed at placating Han Chinese who have rallied in Urumqi calling for swift justice. An overseas Uighur activist, however, said they were only likely to exacerbate the ethnic tensions.
Xinjiang has been under heavy security since the strife, and state TV showed paramilitary troops in riot gear surrounding the courthouse Monday.
The official Xinhua News Agency said seven people were convicted of murder, and some also convicted of arson and robbery. Six received the death penalty: Abdukerim Abduwayit, Gheni Yusup, Abdulla Mettohti, Adil Rozi, Nureli Wuxiu'er, and Alim Metyusup.