China's court convicts 2 Tibetans for inciting immolations



Beijing: A Tibetan monk was given a suspended death sentence and his nephew sent to 10 years in prison for inciting self-immolation protests against Chinese rule, that have shaken the Himalayan region in recent months.

Monk Lorang Konchok, 40, was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve and has been stripped of his political rights for life, in what was seen as a deterrent punishment in the region hit by unrest.

His nephew, Lorang Tsering, 31, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and has been stripped of his political rights for three years, state-run Xinhua quoted the court verdict as saying.

The two incited and coerced eight people to self-immolate, resulting in three deaths, the Intermediate People's Court of the Tibetan-Qiang Autonomous Prefecture of Aba found.

Monk Konchok was accused by the prosecutors of receiving instructions from fellow monks settled in Dharmasala and inciting the immolations calling for return of the Dalai Lama from self exile.

His confessions were widely telecast in China.

About 95 people have set themselves on fire in recent months in different parts of the Tibet Autonomous Region and Tibetan prefectures.

China has blamed the wave of protests on the Dalai Lama and his supporters who it says were trying to discredit the Chinese government.

Konchok is the second monk to have been convicted.

In 2011, Monk Drongdru was sentenced to 11 years for plotting, instigating and assisting the self-immolation of a fellow monk.

Last month, China brought a new law in Tibet making inciting others to set themselves on fire or not affectively intervening to stop people indulging in such acts as an "intentional homicide".

According to the new regulation people who plan, organise, incite or help others to perform self-immolations will be tried for intentional homicide.

Konchok and his nephew were accused of inciting eight people to set them themselves on fire. Of this three died and other five people abandoned their plans.

Lorang Konchok, a monk in Aba's Kirti Monastery, maintained long-term and close contact with Samtan, a member of an overseas "Kirti Monastery media liaison team" -- a "Tibet independence" organisation, according to the court.

Lorang Konchok used his status as a "geshe," or a high-level Tibetan religious scholar, to convince monks and others to self-immolate, the court said.

Konchok sent information regarding self-immolations to Samtan.

The information was used by some overseas media as a basis for creating secessionist propaganda, the court said.

The court ruled that two convinced eight people to self-immolate, constituting the crime of intentional homicide.

Konchok was described by the court as the prime culprit, a description that typically result in a death sentence.

After he was arrested, Konchok recounted the main facts of the case, pled guilty and showed repentance during the trial, which led to his punishment being mitigated, the verdict said.

Lorang Tsering acted under Lorang Konchok's instruction, according to the court, adding that he played a secondary role as an accessory.

He also recounted the main facts of the case, pled guilty and showed repentance during the trial, leading to a lighter sentence, according to the verdict.

More than 130 people were present when the verdict was handed down. They included the relatives and friends of the two defendants, the Xinhua report said.

PTI