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China sentences 3 more rioters to death

By Associated Press
October 16, 2009

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BEIJING - China sentenced three more people to death yesterday for murders committed during riots in the far western Xinjiang region in July, bringing to nine the number of people facing execution for the unrest.

Nearly 200 people were killed when Muslim Uighurs and members of China’s dominant Han ethnicity turned on one another in the streets of the regional capital, Urumqi. First, Uighurs assaulted random people in the overwhelmingly Han city. Days later, Han vigilantes retaliated in Uighur neighborhoods. It was the country’s worst communal violence in decades.

The official Xinhua News Agency said that three defendants were sentenced to death by the Urumqi Intermediate People’s Court, and that three others were sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve, a penalty usually commuted to life in prison. The condemned men were all Uighur except for one Han Chinese man who was convicted of beating a Uighur man to death with a steel bar during the revenge attacks, Xinhua said.

The Uighurs sentenced to death were convicted of murder for the beating deaths of two people on July 5. One of those given a two-year reprieve was found guilty of a beating death; the other was convicted of an arson attack on an auto dealership that destroyed 40 cars.

In all, 14 people were sentenced yesterday, including three who received life sentences for attacking people, setting fires, and destroying private property.