Newspaper article International New York Times

China Court Sentences 3 to Death ; Defendants Found Guilty of Leading Terrorist Group That Killed 31 at Station

Newspaper article International New York Times

China Court Sentences 3 to Death ; Defendants Found Guilty of Leading Terrorist Group That Killed 31 at Station

Article excerpt

A fourth defendant was sentenced to life in prison in the slashing rampage at a railroad station that killed 31 people in March.

A court in southwest China on Friday sentenced three people to death and another to life in prison after finding them guilty of killing 31 people in a slashing rampage at a railroad station in early March, the official media reported.

The three men sentenced to death were convicted of organizing and leading a terrorist organization and of intentional homicide for the attack, although they were captured Feb. 27, two days before the assault on March 1.

That evening in March, five other members of the group went to Kunming Railway Station and carried out the stabbings. Four of them were shot and killed. The survivor, a woman named Patigul Tohti, was captured and went on trial with the three men accused of being ringleaders.

The assault was among the bloodiest attacks to galvanize an intense security drive against the discontent of ethnic Uighurs in Xinjiang, the far western region where the defendants came from. The trial, heavily reported by Chinese state media, revived images of the mayhem in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province in southwest China.

The verdict showed the Chinese government's "staunch attitude and strong determination to sternly attack violent terror crimes," said Yunnan's official news service, citing the court decision.

In addition to the dead, 141 people were wounded, many of them travelling workers belonging to China's Han ethnic majority.

After a hearing that started in the morning, the verdict was swift and predictably harsh. The judges agreed with the prosecutors that the three men on trial -- Iskandar Ehet, Turgun Tohtunyaz and Hasayn Muhammad -- were ringleaders of the attack, and they were found guilty of organizing and leading a terrorist organization, as well as intentional homicide, according to Xinhua, the state news agency. …

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