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.
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.
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 attempt came just days ahead of the third anniversary of deadly 2009 riots in Urumqi when nearly 200 people were killed in fighting between Han Chinese and Uighurs. Beijing has since further boosted its already massive security presence in the region and stepped up economic development and moves to further assimilate the Uighur population.Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the overseas World Uyghur Congress, said local Uighurs told him the four defendants were given court-appointed lawyers who failed to properly defend them, and called for an independent investigation into the incident.“No local Uighurs believe that it was terror because of the heavy security Uighurs have to go through before they fly, several layers of it, much more than Han Chinese. So, no one believes they would be able to try to hijack a plane,” Raxit said by telephone from Germany.