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Page last updated at 10:26 GMT, Monday, 24 August 2009 11:26 UK

Trials due over Xinjiang riots

Photo of the English language government China Daily newspaper on 31 July 2009
The China Daily has already published photos of people wanted over the riots.

More than 200 people will be prosecuted on charges of involvement in the riots last month in the Chinese province of Xinjiang, the China Daily has reported.

The trials are expected to start this week in Xinjiang's capital, Urumqi.

Charges include vandalising public property and transport, organising crowds to cause bodily harm to others, robbery, murder and arson.

Chinese police detained more than 1,500 people after violence between ethnic Uighurs and Han Chinese left 200 dead.

The China Daily said that most of the arrests were made in Urumqi and Kashgar, a southern Xinjiang city with a heavy concentration of Uighur people.

The state newspaper did not give a breakdown on how many Uighurs and how many Han would go on trial, but it said more than 170 Uighurs and 20 Han lawyers had been assigned to the suspects.

More security?

The newspaper reported last week that more than 3,300 items of physical evidence had been collected, including bricks and clubs stained with blood.

The evidence included 91 video clips and 2,169 photographs, it said.

Although security in Urumqi is already high, "a drastic increase in security is expected in the whole city," the newspaper said, especially around the Urumqi Intermediate People's Court.

Armed police are already conducting round-the-clock patrols in the area.

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Angry Uighurs defy Chinese police (footage from July)

The trials are taking place at a sensitive time for China's leaders, in the run-up to celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on 1 October.

The riots broke out on 5 July after an initially peaceful protest by Uighur youths, apparently prompted by an earlier riot in a factory in southern China.

Burnt-out bus and stalls in Urumqi - 6 July 2009
Shops and vehicles were destroyed in the rioting

In the outbreak of violence, shops were smashed and vehicles set alight and passers-by set upon by rioters.

The violence was the worst ethnic unrest in China for decades.

The government says 197 people died and more than 1,700 were injured.

The government says most of the dead were Han Chinese, but the exile activist group, the World Uighur Congress, claims many Uighurs were also killed.

The government has insisted the violence which followed was engineered by Uighurs in exile, chiefly World Uighur Congress leader Rebiya Kadeer.

Beijing has been pursuing vigorous diplomatic complaints against countries such as Australia and Japan, which have recently granted visas to Ms Kadeer to travel there and discuss her concerns.

Many Uighurs want more autonomy and respect for their culture and religion - Islam - than is allowed by China's strict centrist rule.



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