20 jailed for terrorism, separatism in China

Beijing, Mar. 28 (Xinhua-ANI): Two courts in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region have sentenced 20 people for taking part in terrorist activities and plotting to divide the country.

Nineteen of the suspects were given prison sentences ranging from five years to life in prison after a trial in the Kashagar Prefecture Intermediate People's Court on Tuesday.

They were convicted of using cell phones and electronic storage mediums to organize, lead and take part in terrorist activities. They were also convicted of illegally crossing borders and affray, according to the court's ruling.

They included a gang of eight who had watched and spread videos of two terrorist groups, the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. They were also charged with organizing physical training for terrorists, buying weapons and plotting to assassinate local police officers.

Two of the gang's leaders were sentenced to life in prison for the crime of organizing and leading a terrorist organization. The other six members were given jail sentences ranging from 5 to 15 years for the crime of organizing and taking part in a terrorist organization.

Kerem Mohammad, the 20th suspect, was sentenced to 10 years in jail on the same day by the Bayingolin Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture Intermediate People's Court for inciting separatism.

He was charged with using online chat rooms to spread information related to separatism and terrorism. His books and hard drives were confiscated.

Using electronic media to spread religious extremism and terrorism is a common feature for both cases, said Gulazat Tursun, an assistant professor at the Law School of Xinjiang University.

The Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement is the biggest threat to Xinjiang's stability, said Ma Pinyan, executive deputy director of the ethnicity and religion research center at the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Regional Academy of Social Sciences.

Overseas terrorist groups have accelerated their penetration into China in recent years, Ma said, using online videos to spread and instigate terrorism in Xinjiang. (Xinhua-ANI)