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China executes 3 for inciting riots

beijing

27 others sentenced to jail

April 26, 1997
Web posted at: 1:28 p.m. EDT (1728 GMT)

BEIJING (CNN) -- Three men were sentenced to death and executed the same day for their roles in bloody riots that rocked northern China earlier this year, Chinese authorities said Saturday. Twenty-seven others were sentenced to penalties ranging from seven years in prison to life imprisonment.

More than 5,000 people packed a sports stadium in the Yili district of Xinjiang, the troubled Muslim region near the border with Kazakstan, to see the group sentenced at a Thursday rally.

All of the convicted men were members of the ethnic Uighur minority, Xinjiang's largest Muslim group, who have grown increasingly resentful in recent years of Chinese rule and settlers.

The three men executed were sentenced to death for wounding, hooliganism, arson and beatings.

Death penalties in China are often carried out shortly after sentencing with a bullet to the head.

At least 10 people were killed and 140 others injured when crowds of young Muslims beat people during a pro-independence rally in Yining on February 5 and 6. It was among the worst violence to rattle Xinjiang since the 1949 Communist takeover.

News reports said the Yili District Intermediate People's Court and the court for Yining city in Yili, which held the public rally, sentenced one person to life imprisonment for hooliganism. Twenty-six others reportedly drew sentences ranging from 7 to 18 years in prison.

The Xinjiang Daily said they were first batch of rioters sentenced, suggesting there will be more.

Xinjiang, a vast region that is home to many Turkic-speaking peoples such as the Uighurs, has a long history of ethnic unrest and has recently been rocked by Muslim separatist violence.

Reuters contributed to this report.

 
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