China sentences Muslim separatist to death


A Muslim separatist in China's restive northwestern Xinjiang region who received military training abroad has been sentenced to death, a Hong Kong-based rights group said on Thursday.

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Wusiman Yimidi received his sentence for "separatism, illegal manufacturing of explosives and illegal storage and transportation of guns and ammunition," said the Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy. His sentence was announced Wednesday at a mass meeting in Xinjiang's capital Urumqi, where 23 others were sentenced to death or prison for various other crimes, the center said.

Participants at the meeting were told that Wusiman Yimidi had received military training abroad and had passed that training on to a group of separatists he organized after returning to Xinjiang, according to the center. He is currently held at a prison in Urumqi and is expected to appeal his sentence, the center said.

Another man was given the death penalty for killing a soldier, while nine others received prison sentences of three to 20 years for separatism and the manufacture of illegal explosives.

The battle against separatism in Xinjiang has been one of the priorities for local authorities in their implementation of a nationwide "strike hard" campaign against crime, launched earlier this year by China's communist authorities.

Xinjiang has seen serious tension in recent years between its Muslim majority, which mostly consists of Turkic-speaking Uighurs, and its minority of Han Chinese, who make up 38 percent of the population.

In separate news, death sentences of several criminals were announced Wednesday at a mass meeting in Nanchang, capital city of eastern Jiangxi province, the People's Court Daily reported. They were executed immediately afterwards, the paper said.

On the same day, an arsonist was executed in southwestern Yunnan province, while the day before, a person who had killed 12 people through poisoning was sentenced to death in central Hunan province, the Procuratorial Daily said.

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