Skip to main content

55 sentenced before 7,000 onlookers at terror 'show trial' in Chinese stadium

By Tim Hume and Dayu Zhang, CNN
updated 9:30 AM EDT, Thu May 29, 2014
Dozens of terror suspects are found guilty before 7000 spectators at a stadium in China's Xinjiang Province.
Dozens of terror suspects are found guilty before 7000 spectators at a stadium in China's Xinjiang Province.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 55 people have been sentenced on terror charges in a stadium "show trial" in China
  • Three were sentenced to death in the stadium in Xinjiang, before 7,000 spectators
  • The trial is part of a response to a string of terror attacks linked to the Uyghur minority
  • Amnesty International has slammed the stadium trial as "deplorable"

Beijing (CNN) -- A Chinese court sentenced 55 people on terror charges before thousands of onlookers in a stadium in Xinjiang Province Wednesday, as part of a hardline response to a string of deadly attacks across the country.

The trial was held in a stadium in Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture in the restive western province of Xinjiang, before about 7,000 spectators, according to reports.

The accused were found guilty by the Higher People's Court of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of charges including intentional homicide, separatism, and organizing, leading and participating in terrorist activities.

Three of the accused were sentenced to death, state media reported, for the murder "with extreme cruelty" of a family of four in Yining City, using blades and axes, on April 20. The court named one of those sentenced to death over the attack, whose victims included a three-year-old girl, as Abulimiti Abdullah, state media reported.

Pictures from the sentencing showed the accused held on the back of pick-up trucks, dressed in orange jumpsuits and surrounded by security forces. A banner across the back of the stadium read: "Yili Prefecture Public Judgment, Public Seizure, Public Arrest General Assembly."

Li Minghui, vice-secretary of the prefectural Communist Party committee, vowed to strike hard against terrorists.

"We have the confidence, resolution and capability to take a firm stance, form an iron hand and hit hard and fast like a thunder to vanquish the enemy's arrogant audacity," he was reported as saying.

"We will achieve the final victory of this war of the people to stop terrorism and maintain stability."

Report: Extremist groups busted in northwest China

'Deplorable' show trial

Terror suspects, in orange jumpsuits, held by security forces.
Terror suspects, in orange jumpsuits, held by security forces.

Human rights organization Amnesty International called the proceedings a show trial, labeling it "deplorable" and saying it was no way to address public security concerns in the wake of the violence that has spread from the province. Most of those sentenced were believed to be Uyghurs, it said in a statement.

"Those responsible for the recent violent attacks have shown a callous disregard for human life and must be held to account. But speedy show trials will not deliver justice for the victims," said William Nee, Amnesty's China researcher.

"Hastily sentencing people after unfair trials will only exacerbate tensions."

He said Chinese authorities appeared "more concerned with courting public opinion than justice."

"It is highly doubtful the accused received fair trials," he said, adding that those sentenced were believed to be at risk of torture in detention.

READ MORE: Xinjiang and tensions in China's restive west

Spate of terror

The trial follows a spate of terror attacks in public spaces across China linked to Xinjiang's Uyghur population, a mainly Turkic-speaking Muslim minority.

The latest bout began when a jeep plowed into crowds in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in October, killing five and injuring at least 40, and have intensified in recent months.

Twenty-nine people were killed and 130 injured when men armed with long knives stormed a train station in Kunming in March. The following month an attack on a train station in Urumqi, Xinjiang's capital, left three dead, including the attackers, while an attack on an Urumqi market earlier this month killed at least 39.

In response, police in Xinjiang launched a crackdown on extremist groups in the province, arresting 200 suspects and seizing hundreds of explosive devices, Chinese state media reported this week. The state's anti-terrorist force has been beefed up in Xinjiang, and security tightened around the country.

Some Uyghurs have expressed resentment towards China's Han majority in recent years over what they say is harsh treatment from Chinese security forces and Han people taking the lion's share of economic opportunities in Xinjiang.

Amnesty said Uyghurs face widespread discrimination, including in employment, housing and educational opportunities, as well as curtailed religious freedom and political marginalization.

OPINION: China faces its own 'war on terror'

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 3:57 AM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Chinese students show a handmade red ribbon one day ahead of the the World AIDS Day, at a school in Hanshan, east China's Anhui province on November 30, 2009.
Over 200 Chinese villagers in Sichuan province have signed a petition to banish a HIV-positive eight-year-old boy, state media reported.
updated 6:44 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
A Chinese couple allegedly threw hot water on a flight attendant and threatened to blow up the plane, forcing the Nanjing-bound plane to turn back to Bangkok.
updated 12:03 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
China's 1.3 billion citizens may soon find it much harder to belt out their national anthem at will.
updated 7:21 PM EST, Tue December 9, 2014
Like Beijing today, Los Angeles in the last century went through its own smog crisis. The city's mayor says LA's experience delivers valuable lessons.
updated 12:42 AM EST, Sat December 6, 2014
At the height of his power, Zhou Yongkang controlled China's police, spy agencies and courts. Now, he's under arrest.
updated 3:26 AM EST, Fri December 5, 2014
China says it will end organ transplants from executed prisoners but tradition means that donors are unlikely to make up the shortfall.
updated 1:48 AM EST, Fri December 5, 2014
China's skylines could look a lot more uniform in the years to come, if a statement by a top Beijing official is to believed.
updated 3:55 AM EST, Wed December 3, 2014
Despite an anti-corruption drive, China's position on an international corruption index has deteriorated in the past 12 months.
updated 7:01 AM EST, Wed November 26, 2014
A daring cross-border raid by one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's associates has -- so far -- yet to sour Sino-Russian relations.
updated 7:51 PM EST, Sun November 23, 2014
A 24-hour Taipei bookstore is a hangout for hipsters as well as bookworms.
updated 8:53 PM EST, Mon November 24, 2014
China is building an island in the South China Sea that could accommodate an airstrip, according to IHS Jane's Defence Weekly.
updated 5:57 AM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
North Korean refugees face a daunting journey to reach asylum in South Korea, with gangs of smugglers the only option.
updated 6:19 PM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
China and "probably one or two other" countries have the capacity to shut down the nation's power grid and other critical infrastructure.
ADVERTISEMENT