CHINA - Twelve people were sentenced to death and 15 others received death sentences with a two-year reprieve on Monday for their involvement in the deadly terrorist attack in Shache county, south of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, on July 28 that left 37 civilians dead, according to a court statement released on Monday evening.
The intermediate people's court of Kashgar prefecture announced the verdicts for 58 male and female suspects arrested by police after a large gang armed with knives and axes attacked a police station and government offices in Elixku township in Kashgar's Shache county in the early morning, before some moved on to the nearby Huangdi township, attacking civilians and smashing vehicles as they passed.
According to police, the gangsters also set roadblocks and stopped vehicles passing, before slashing passengers indiscriminately and forcing civilians to join them in the terror attack.
Local police gunned down 59 attackers and arrested 215 others. They also confiscated long knives and axes, and banners that hailed a "holy war".
Osman Abulat, Yusup Abulat, Juma Kadeer, Memetiming Amar and eight others were sentenced to death for organising, leading and participating in terrorist groups, intentional homicide, illegally producing explosives, arson, kidnapping and endangering public security with dangerous methods.
The court found that Osman had joined the terrorist group led by Nuramat Sawut from Elixku township, who had close connections with the terrorist organisation East Turkestan Islamic Movement and the mastermind of the terrorist attack in Shache.
Osman then took on the role of recruiting and even forced others to join the terrorist attack. He attacked drivers on the road and killed three of them.
Nuramat, who was shot dead by police at the scene, had been spreading separatism and religious extremism with audio and video materials since 2013.
Through this process he developed a terrorist group and became its leader.
Yusup is also a member of Nuramat's group. He is responsible for the killing of five people. Juma smashed vehicles on the road and set them on fire with other gangsters. They also killed two people.
Besides setting fire to passing vehicles, the criminal group led by Memetiming also produced a large quantity of explosives, which they planned to use to attack police officers.
Police said six of the 31 vehicles smashed in the violent attack were also burnt.
Of those offenders tried, nine received life sentences and 20 suspects, including at least one female, received prison sentences of between four and 20 years.
Two others were given probation.
The court said it hands lenient sentences to those who turn themselves in or show remorse. Ali Turson was involved in the killing of innocent people in the terrorist attack and was given a sentence of life imprisonment for turning himself in.
Memeturson Amar helped his brother to escape a police manhunt after the attack and broke the law for harbouring a criminal.
The court found Memeturson had persuaded his brother not to join the attack before it took place and showed remorse after he was caught, so he was given a lenient sentence of three years in prison with a four-year reprieve.
The trials of other suspects arrested after the attack in Shache are still pending.
The government of Kashgar prefecture admitted last week that it failed to fully implement all measures introduced by the central and regional government to maintain social stability and accepts responsibility over the attack.
It vows to learn from the painful lesson of Shache and tackle the problem from the grassroots level.