China sentences 2 Tibetans over self-immolation

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-1-31 12:58:37

A court in southwest China's Sichuan Province on Thursday convicted two ethnic Tibetans of intentional homicide for inciting eight people to self-immolate, three of whom died.

Lorang Konchok, 40, was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve and has been stripped of his political rights for life. His nephew, Lorang Tsering, 31, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and has been stripped of his political rights for three years, according to the court verdict.

The two incited and coerced eight people to self-immolate, resulting in three deaths, the Intermediate People's Court of the Tibetan-Qiang Autonomous Prefecture of Aba found.

Of the eight people, three set themselves on fire and died in 2012. They were identified as Lorang Tsedrup, Tsenam and Jokba. The other five people did not self-immolate, after willfully abandoning their plans or after police intervened, the court found.

Lorang Konchok, a monk in Aba's Kirti Monastery, maintained long-term and close contact with Samtan, a member of an overseas "Kirti Monastery media liaison team" -- a "Tibet independence" organization, according to the court.

After the self-immolation of a Kirti Monastery monk named Tapey in 2009, Samtan asked Lorang Konchok to collect and provide information related to self-immolations in Aba.

Lorang Konchok used his status as a "geshe," or a high-level Tibetan religious scholar, to convince monks and others to self-immolate, the court found.

Lorang Konchok sent information regarding self-immolations to Samtan. The information was used by some overseas media as a basis for creating secessionist propaganda, according to the court.

Lorang Konchok and Lorang Tsering convinced eight people to self-immolate, constituting the crime of intentional homicide, according to the court's verdict.

Lorang Konchok was described by the court as the prime culprit, which would typically result in a death sentence. After he was arrested, Lorang Konchok recounted the main facts of the case, pled guilty and showed repentance during the trial, which led to his punishment being mitigated, the verdict said.

Lorang Tsering acted under Lorang Konchok's instruction, according to the court, adding that he played a secondary role as an accessory. He also recounted the main facts of the case, pled guilty and showed repentance during the trial, leading to a lighter sentence, according to the verdict.

More than 130 people were present when the verdict was handed down. They included the relatives and friends of the two defendants.

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