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Page last updated at 13:03 GMT, Wednesday, 8 April 2009 14:03 UK

Two Tibetans sentenced to death

Scene in Lhasa, March 2008
Tibetans attacked Chinese shops and property during last year's riots

China has sentenced two men to death for deadly arson attacks during an uprising in Tibet a year ago.

These are the first definitive death sentences relating to the widespread riots in Lhasa last March.

The Chinese government says about 20 people were killed during the unrest while exiled Tibetan circles put the figure at more than 200.

Hundreds of people were arrested as a result of the riots and several have already received long jail terms.

Different versions

The two men sentenced to death played a part in starting fires which resulted in seven deaths and the destruction of five shops in Lhasa, Chinese state media report.

China map

The Lhasa Municipal Intermediate People's Court also sentenced three other people in connection with the fires.

Two were given suspended death sentences - which are usually commuted to life imprisonment - and another was sentenced to life.

It is clear that Tibetans attacked Chinese civilians, shops and property during the unrest last March but beyond that, versions of what happened differ widely.

The Chinese government says 18 civilians and a policeman were killed by rioters.

But the exiled Tibetan government insists more than 200 Tibetans were killed by Chinese security forces.

Beijing claims the protests were part of a violent campaign to overthrow Chinese rule in Tibet and sabotage the Beijing Olympics.

China has ruled Tibet since 1951, after sending troops to the Himalayan region the previous year.



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