URUMQI, CHINA - Five more have been sentenced to death for their involvement in the bloody riots in the capital of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.
In total, 13 suspects were tried Thursday at the Urumqi Intermediate Court. All five who were sentenced to death are Uygur men.
Two other suspects were sentenced to life in prison. Six others were given jail terms, though details of the jail terms were not released yesterday.
It's been nearly two months since a first group of riot suspects was tried and only 34 suspects have been prosecuted as of yesterday. Urumqi's deputy chief procurator Liu Bo said earlier that accusations have been brought against 108 riot suspects.
Today, seven more suspects will be prosecuted.
Charges against suspects in court today and prosecuted yesterday range from murder, arson, robbery, intentional injury and causing explosions in the July 5 riots that left 197 dead and injured more than 1,700.
Prosecutors said that yesterday's group of suspects were involved in incidents that left 18 people dead, injured three and damaged property worth up to 2.3 million yuan ($465,000). The trials yesterday started at 10am in separate courtrooms, a day after Xinjiang Muslims celebrated the five-day holiday for Eid-Ul-Adha, the Festival of Sacrifice.
Paddy wagons carrying the defendants arrived at court with a strong police presence both inside the court and outside on the street nearly half an hour before the trials began in the snowy morning.
The cases were heard in the Uygur language and interpretation was provided as hundreds of people, including relatives of the defendants and victims, were present at the trials.
The trial of Maimaiti'aili Yisilamu who allegedly killed 30-year-old armed police officer Wan Jingang, the only policeman to reportedly die in the riots, drew a tremendous amount of public attention.
Yisilamu, 24, of Kashgar, was sentenced to death for Wan's murder.
Yisilamu denied all allegations and said some of the evidence shown in court was false. He also claimed he made his testimony under a coercive interrogation, but prosecutors denied there was misconduct during the investigation.
"All evidence was collected according to legal procedure," the prosecutor said in court.
Yisilamu's attorney asked the judge for a lighter sentence because the defendant was not the only one who caused Wan's death. The panel of judges denied the attorney's request and handed down the death sentence.
All defendants have the right to appeal but the verdict during a possible appeal will be deemed final, according to Chinese law. A death sentence verdict must be reviewed by the Supreme People's Court before execution.
Among the first batch of tried suspects, nine received death sentences, three were handed death sentences with a two-year reprieve - a sentence often commuted to life in prison - and four were sentenced to life in prison. Those who received death sentences were already executed.