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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Tibet arsonist gets suspended death sentence

April 22, 2009

April 20, 2009

BEIJING (AFP) — A Tibet court has issued a suspended death sentence for
one man and stiff jail terms for two others for setting deadly fires in
riots last year, Chinese state media said Tuesday.

The two fires, set during fierce anti-China riots in Lhasa in March
2008, killed six people, Xinhua news agency said, quoting the Tibet
Daily newspaper. The report could not immediately be seen on the paper's
website.

The report said a Tibetan man identified as Penkyi received the
suspended death sentence for starting both fires in clothing stores.

China issues its suspended death sentence in the form of an execution
order with a two-year reprieve. If Penkyi does not commit any further
crime in jail over the next two years, his death sentence is commuted.

The first fire killed the store's ethnic Han Chinese owner, while the
second claimed the lives of five store staff, it said.

The other two Tibetans convicted, one of whom also was named Penkyi and
the other Chimed, helped set the second fire, it said.

The latter Penkyi got a life term while Chimed received 10 years in prison.

The Lhasa violence, which spread across Tibet and adjacent areas with
Tibetan populations, deeply angered and embarrassed the Chinese
government as it was preparing to host the Beijing Summer Olympics.

A Lhasa court earlier this month sentenced two people to death for their
roles in separate arson attacks, state media said at the time, the first
such penalties reported over the deadly unrest.

Two others were given suspended death sentences at the time, while
another was given life in prison in three separate deadly arson cases.

In February, Xinhua reported that Chinese courts had handed down
sentences ranging from three years to life in prison to a total of 76
people over the riots.

Tibetan activist groups have said thousands of people may have been
arrested.

China has said "rioters" were responsible for 21 deaths, while saying
that its security forces killed only one "insurgent."

However, the exiled Tibetan government headed by the Dalai Lama has said
more than 200 Tibetans were killed in China's subsequent crackdown.
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