China sentences 30 people – some to life – over Tibet riots

>BEIJING (AP) – Six Buddhist monks were among 30 people sentenced by a Chinese court Tuesday to jail terms ranging from three years to life for taking part in deadly riots in Tibet.

The punishments were the first to be meted out by a Chinese court against Tibetans accused of taking part in a frenzy of assaults, burning, looting and vandalism mainly targeting Han Chinese and their businesses in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa and nearby areas between March 14-16.

The violence and subsequent government crackdown drew worldwide attention to China’s human rights record and its rule in Tibet ahead of the Beijing Olympics. Celebrations marking 100 days to the start of the games take place Wednesday.

The sentences were announced during two sessions of a one-day trial at the Intermediate People’s Court of Lhasa, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. China Central Television’s evening newscast showed the convicts being led out by police with bowed heads in front of a packed courtroom.

Xinhua said three men received life sentences, including a Buddhist monk identified as Basang who allegedly led 10 people, including five other monks, to destroy local government offices, burn down shops and attack policemen.

Two of Basang’s alleged monk accomplices were sentenced to 20 years, and the other three to 15 years in jail.

Soi’nam Cering, a driver for a Lhasa real estate company, was sentenced to life in jail for joining in the mobs that burned vehicles, smashed police stations and assaulted firefighters during the riot, Xinhua said.

The third man to receive a life sentence was a 30-year-old businessman who was identified only by his last name, Cering, Xinhua said. The agency reported that he was convicted of inciting others to commit arson and looting shops and vehicles during riots in his home county of Lingzhou, about 40 miles east of Lhasa, on March 15 and 16.

CCTV said seven people were sentenced to about 15 years in prison, and the other 20 received sentences of between three to 14 years. The charges included arson, robbery, interruption of law enforcement, and theft, it said.

A policeman was shot to death while attempting to capture an alleged “riot leader” in a Tibetan area in northwest Qinghai Province, Xinhua reported late Tuesday. The officer, identified as Lama Cedain, died Monday, according to local authorities.