China has sentenced a respected Tibetan lama to 8 1/2 years in jail for illegal land occupation and ammunition possession, possibly the first senior Buddhist leader tried on serious charges linked to riots in 2008 in the Tibetan capital, a lawyer said Thursday.
A court in southwestern Sichuan province bordering Tibet convicted Phurbu Tsering Rinpoche, who headed a convent in Ganzi, a predominantly Tibetan prefecture in the province, Beijing-based attorney Jiang Tianyong said.
Phurbu Tsering Rinpoche is a Buddhist priest, or lama, and is highly respected. He was arrested May 18, 2008, just days after more than 80 nuns in Ganzi held a demonstration against an official campaign to impose “patriotic re-education” on their convents, in which they were required to denounce Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.
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