China Sentences Four For Attempted Hijacking

CDT previously reported on the death of two hijackers on Tianjin Airlines flight GS7554. Chinese state media now reports three more have been sentenced to death for their involvement of the hijacking. From Xinhua: The Intermediate People’s Court in Hotan Prefecture ruled at the first instance that the men were guilty of organizing, leading or participating in a terrorist group, hijacking the aircraft and attempting to detonate explosives on the aircraft. Musa Yvsup and Arxidikali Yimin, the leaders of the group who plotted the hijacking, and Eyumer Yimin, a major participant in the planning, were sentenced to death, according to a statement from the court. Alem Musa, who played a minor role in the plane hijacking and willingly pleaded guilty after being arrested, received a life sentence, said the statement. All the defendants confessed the above crimes at the court. Tensions in Xinjiang Autonomous Region have been mounting since 2009. According to AFP, the attempted hijacking also resulted in an ‘economic loss’:
Rights groups say the violence in the region stems from long-held grievances among Uighurs, who complain that an influx of Han is eroding their culture.
Beijing says it has provided much-needed development in the region, and blames much of the violence there on what it calls the three “evil forces” of religious extremism, separatism and terrorism.
The attempted hijack resulted in an ‘economic loss’ of 28.58 million yuan (4.58 million U.S. dollars), the court statement said.
 Despite the sentence, rights groups claim that the men had been denied their choice of lawyers, AP reports:
Such cases are usually decided by security officials well before any hearings are held, and confessions usually feature prominently in the prosecution. Torture, widely employed by Chinese police, is especially common in Xinjiang and another restive minority area, Tibet, activists say.
The alleged hijacking
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