By Phurbu Thinley
Penkyi is sentenced to death with a two year reprieve, photo/Tibet.net
Dharamsala, April 21: A Chinese court in Tibet has sentenced a Tibetan to death with a two-year reprieve and two others to long jail terms for setting fires that killed six people in the Lhasa riot last year, Chinese state media said Tuesday.
The Lhasa Municipal Intermediate People's Court issued a suspended death sentence to a Tibetan man, identified as Penkyi of Sakya County, for “starting fires in two downtown clothing shops on March 14,” Xinhua news agency reported, citing a state-run Tibet Daily newspaper. However, the exile Tibetan government, NGOs and monitoring agencies say that Penkyi is a 21-year-old woman from Norbu village, Dogra township in Sakya County. A picture of Penkyi was also posted on the official website of the Tibetan government in exile.
The first fire killed the store's ethnic Han Chinese owner, while the second claimed the lives of five store staff, the Xinhua report said.
Penkyi was sentenced to life in jail photo/TibetNet
According to the report, the other two Tibetans convicted, one of whom also was named Penkyi and the other Chimed, helped set the second fire that killed five of the shop's six staff.
Penkyi, of Nyinmo, was sentenced to life imprisonment and Chimed was jailed for 10 years, the report said.
The Chinese media report did not say when the sentences were delivered nor did it give other details of the defendants and their arguments.
The report by the Tibetan Government-in-exile described the latter Penkyi as a 23-year old woman from Thantoe village, Margkyang Township in Nyemo County and the other as a 20-year old Chime Lhamo.
Chime Lhamo was sentenced to 10 years in jail photo/Tibet.net
The court in Lhasa earlier this month sentenced two people, Lobsang Gyaltsen and Loyak, to death for their alleged roles in separate arson attacks, state media said at the time. It was the first report of death sentences given out for last year’s unrest in Tibet that led to the most sustained uprising against Chinese rule in decades.
Two others, Tenzin Phuntsok and Kangtsuk, were given suspended death sentences at the time, while another Dawa Sangpo was given life in prison in three separate “arson” cases.
Chinese state news agency Xinhua at the time reported that another arson case was still under trial in Tibet.
Tibetan Government-in-Exile, based in northern India, said those sentenced had not received a fair trial and warned of even greater resentment among Tibetans.
China insisted the close-door trials had been open and fair according to Chinese law and that the accused were defended by lawyers and provided with Tibetan interpreters.
Following the March 2008 protests, several lawyers from the Mainland China who offered to represent Tibetan detainees were, however, reportedly threatened by Chinese authorities not to help Tibetans or else they might lose their registration to practice law.
Condemning the death sentences, Tibetan exiles around the world staged series of protests and also urged the international community, especially the rights groups, to help in their campaign to ensure fair and proper trial for the convicted Tibetans.