BEIJING, December 30 - A death sentence handed to a Tibetan monk over a spate of bombings could be commuted to life in jail, the official Xinhua news agency said on Thursday.
Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was given a suspended death sentence in December 2002 for the blasts in a Tibetan-populated area in the southwest of China. Activists had feared Tenzin Delek might be executed this month.
Xinhua said the monk's two-year probation was set to end on January 26 and that according to Chinese law, the death sentence would be commuted to life in prison if the Buddhist monk did not violate the law again during that period.
Tenzin Delek "had abided by the rules in jail and committed no further crimes", Xinhua quoted the chief warden of the prison where he is being held as saying.
The Higher People's Court of Sichuan would revisit the case after the probation period had ended, it said.
Tibetan activists and human rights groups have lobbied for Tenzin Delek's release, saying he was innocent.
Despite protests from international rights groups and diplomats, China executed Lobsang Dhondup, another Tibetan tried alongside Tenzin Delek, in January 2003.
Thousands of Tibetans have been living in India since the Dalai Lama, accompanied by several followers, fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising against Beijing's communist rule, imposed after Chinese troops entered the Himalayan region in 1950.
Beijing has shown intermittent signs of increasing tolerance toward Tibet, freeing several prominent activists and permitting a series of rare visits by envoys of the Dalai Lama.
But many Tibetans resent what they see as Chinese occupation and interference in their religious lives since the People's Liberation Army marched in.