Page last updated at 10:28 GMT, Thursday, 3 December 2009

Five sentenced to death over deadly China riots

Chinese security outside court in Urumqi, Xinjiang. File photo - 12 September 2009
Urumqi has been under heavy security since the July unrest

A court in China's Xinjiang region has sentenced five people to death for murder and other crimes over deadly ethnic riots in July, state media said.

Two other people were sentenced to life imprisonment, Xinhua news agency said.

Nine people were executed last month over the riots in which nearly 200 people were killed.

Chinese officials have said most of the victims were members of China's majority Han ethnic group who were attacked by ethnic Uighurs.

Xinhua's report named the five sentenced to death as Memeteli Islam, Mamattursun Elmu, Memeteli Abburakm, Kushiman Kurban and Helil Sadir.

Eight other people received jail terms, Xinhua said, including the two sentenced to life in prison.

Struggle to restore order

The five sentenced to death all appear to be Uighurs, judging by their names, correspondents say. The Uighurs are a Turkic minority in China that calls Xinjiang their homeland.

Ethnic tensions exploded on 5 July as Uighurs in Urumqi protested over clashes at a factory in southern China that had left two Uighurs dead.

Map of Xinjiang, China

Shops were smashed and vehicles set alight, with passers-by being set upon by Uighur rioters.

Two days later, groups of Han went looking for revenge as police struggled to restore order.

Officials say 197 people were killed and about 1,700 people injured in the rioting.

A total of 34 people have now been convicted over the rioting, for crimes including murder, arson, property damage and robbery.

Besides Thursday's five death sentences, three other people have been given the death penalty with a two-year reprieve, a sentence which is usually commuted to life in jail.

The rest have received lesser jail terms.

Five more cases are due to be heard by the Intermediate People's Court in Urumqi on Friday.

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Arab News China sentences five more to death for Xinjiang riots - 8 hrs ago
Bangkok Post China sentences five more to death over riots: state media - 13 hrs ago China sentences five Uighurs to death - 14 hrs ago
Times Live South Africa China sentences five more rioters to death - 18 hrs ago
Sydney Morning Herald China 'sentences five to death' over Urumqi riots - 21 hrs ago

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