Eight sentenced for felonies in Xinjiang

URUMQI – Eight people in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region were sentenced to death or imprisonment on Monday after being convicted of murder or abducting children, local courts announced. 

The eight people were involved in five separate cases. 

In one case, a ring headed by Umair Tohti coaxed young children in Xinjiang into working as migrant laborers in Huizhou city, southern Guangdong province, and then forced them into doing “hard work” by beating and abusing them, according to the sentence handed down by the Urumqi Intermediate People’s Court. 

On Nov 9, 2009, Umair Tohti, Tudi Daman and Memet Ahmat, beat a young boy into a coma and threw him into a river. The boy subsequently drowned, the court heard. 

Umair Tohti was sentenced to death, and Tudi Daman and Memet Ahmat were given death sentences with two-year reprieves. 

In another case, Arken Wusiman sold his 12-year-old daughter in April 2009 to criminals who trained her as a pickpocket. But after the young girl was rescued and sent back home, Arken Wusiman sold her to another pickpocketing gang in January this year, and he meanwhile hauled two other abducted children to inland provinces to become pickpockets, according to the Markit County People’s Court. 

Arken Wusiman was sentenced to nine years in prison and fined 5,000 yuan ($781.25). 

In three other cases, four people were all convicted of trafficking children and sentenced to jail terms ranging from two and a half years to 11 years. 

In April, authorities in Xinjiang promised to find and bring home all native Xinjiang children in other parts of the country, many of whom have been forced into stealing and begging by gangs after being conned into leaving their homes with the promise of getting jobs in large and medium-sized eastern cities.

Most of the children are aged between 10 and 18 and come from Aksu, Kashgar, Hotan and Ili, according to the regional bureau of civil affairs. 

The region has sent police who speak both Mandarin and Uygur to public security authorities of other provinces to assist in cracking down on the trafficking of children. 

The Ministry of Public Security also ordered police authorities to launch a crackdown on the kidnapping and coercing of Xinjiang children. 

To date, Xinjiang police, together with police in other regions, have rescued more than 500 abducted Xinjiang children in other parts of the country, busted 90 criminal rings and detained 464 suspects. 

The efforts are aimed at helping the children resume normal lives and restoring the region’s reputation. 

Once they are returned home, the children are placed in government-run shelters that provide schooling and a safe environment, Zhang Chunxian, the region’s Party chief, said in April.

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