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China: Overturn death sentences for Tibet protesters

April 11, 2009

Amnesty International
April 9, 2009

Amnesty International has condemned a decision by
a court in Lhasa to hand down death sentences to
two Tibetans, Losang Gyaltse and Loyar, accused
of starting fatal fires in Lhasa during protests
in March 2008.  Two other people were given death
sentences with a two year reprieve and one person
has been sentenced to life imprisonment.

It is unclear if they will appeal on their
sentences but ultimately, China's  Supreme
People's Court will have to review today's death
sentences, as it does in all death penalty cases.

Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International's Asia Pacific Director, said:

'Amnesty International condemns the death
sentences handed down to Losang Gyaltse and
Loyar. We have recorded a pattern of unfair
trials leading to death sentences in China. Under
these conditions it's very unlikely that these
sentences stand up. We urge the death sentences to be overturned.'

According to a court spokesperson another person,
Tenzin Phuntsog, who received a death sentence
with a two year reprieve admitted his crime after
he was arrested. Torture remains widespread in
China where courts fail to exclude evidence
extracted through torture. This heightens
concerns over Tenzin Phuntsog's confessions and over his treatment.

According to official reports 76 people have been
sentenced in connection with the protests before
today's announcement. Those previously convicted
have received sentences ranging from three years
fixed term imprisonment to life imprisonment.
Most of them have been sentenced for crimes
described as 'arson, looting, picking quarrels
and provoking troubles, assembling a crowd to
storm state organs, disrupting public service,
and theft'. At least seven people have been
sentenced for 'espionage' or 'unlawfully
providing 'intelligence' to an organization or individual outside of China'.

More than 1,000 people detained in connection
with the protests in March 2008 remain
unaccounted for according to the United States
Commission on China. The Chinese authorities say
21 people were killed by violent protesters;
Tibetan sources claim over 100 Tibetans were
killed in the subsequent crackdown.

According to Amnesty International research China
carried out at least 1, 718 executions in 2008
and sentenced 7,003 people to death. The
government of China continues to restrict access
to Tibet raising fears that human rights abuses are under reported.

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