The Intermediate People's Court of Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, has sentenced seven students who allegedly worked for a website run by Ilham Tohti, a former lecturer from the Minzu University of China, to various jail terms, Tohti's lawyer told the Global Times Monday.
The court ruled that the students actively participated in Tohti's separatist activities and sentenced them to jail terms of between three years to eight years, according to Li Fangping and Liu Xiaoyuan, Tohti's lawyers. Li said that one student was sentenced to eight years imprisonment and that two other students were sentenced to seven years behind bars.
"The others were sentenced to five years, three and a half years and three years, respectively," Li said, without saying which student received what jail term. Whether the verdict was handed down on Monday or earlier could not be confirmed. "The verdict was not as harsh as [I had] expected," Li said. The students were charged with separatism, the same crime Tohti was convicted of in September.
Six students, Perhat Halmurat, Shohret Nijat, Mutellip Imin, Abduqeyyum Ablimit, Atikem Rozi and Akbar Imin, are of Uyghur ethnicity. The final student, Luo Yuwei, is from the Yi ethnic minority. They allegedly worked together as administrators at Uyghur Online, a website founded by Tohti.
Shohret Nijat, Perhat Halmurat and Luo Yuwei have testified against Tohti on TV. They stood trial at the Intermediate People's Court of Urumqi on November 25.