Headline News


Convicted Xinjiang terrorist sentenced to life in prison

Source: Xinhuanet | 04-20-2007 13:57

Huseyin Celil, a China-born Uygur described by Chinese authorities as a prominent member of "East Turkistan" terrorist organizations, was sentenced to life imprisonment on Thursday for taking part in terrorist activities and plotting to split the country.

At a court in Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Celil was convicted of separatism and terrorism charges. He was sentenced to life on the separatism charge and 10 years imprisonment for the charge of terrorism.

In accordance to Chinese law, Celil, 37, will serve life in prison and be deprived of his political rights for life, according to court documents released by the Intermediate People's Court of Urumqi.

Chinese criminal law stipulates that a Chinese citizen's political rights include the right to vote and stand for election, the right to freedom of speech, of assembly and of demonstration.

Celil was given refugee status by Canada in 2001. He was arrested in Uzbekistan in 2006 and extradited to China soon afterwards.

It is not known if Celil will appeal his conviction.

According to the court documents, Celil joined the East Turkistan Liberation Organization (ETLO), a listed terrorist group active in central Asia, in November 1997 and was appointed a senior instructor in Kyrgyzstan.

While there, Celil allegedly recruited several people to the ETLO and sent them to terrorist training camps in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, the documents said.

Celil was also active in another listed terrorist organization, the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), for which he helped raise funds, recruit members and organize training, the documents said.

The documents said that in 1997, Celil met ETIM's former head Hasan Mahsum, who was shot dead by the Pakistan army in 2003, and worked directly under Mahsum's command.

Celil was a key member pushing for the alliance of the ETIM and ETLO in 1998, the documents said.

Both groups were included in China's first batch of four identified "East Turkistan" terrorist organizations, publicized by the Ministry of Public Security in December 2003.

The authorities believe "East Turkistan" terrorists have close links with Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, and have been responsible for a series of murders, bombs, hijackings and arson in Xinjiang.

The documents said Huseyin Celil, with the intention of overthrowing the Chinese government and the socialist system, in 1997 provided 80,000 yuan (10,256 U.S. dollars) for the establishment of a new terrorist group, named "Hizbollah", in southern Guangdong Province.

The money was used to purchase guns and provide terrorist training, the documents said.

The documents said the court had properly appointed a defense lawyer to represent Celil and the time and venue of the trial was publicized three days beforehand.

The same court on Tuesday sentenced secessionist Ablikim Abdiriyim, son of Rebiya Kadeer, to nine years in prison on charges of instigating and engaging in secessionist activities.

Rebiya Kadeer, a former businesswoman in China, was detained in 1999 on charges of harming national security. She was released on bail on March 17, 2005 to seek medical treatment in the United States.

The court document said Ablikim Abdiriyim had spread secessionist articles over the Internet, turned the public against the Chinese government and written articles which distorted China's human rights and ethnic policies.

Official statistics released in 2005 showed that what has been coined by the central government as the "three evil forces" - terrorists, separatists and extremists - in Xinjiang had been responsible for more than 260 terrorist incidents over the past decade, killing more than 160 innocent people and injuring 440 others.

"Courts in Xinjiang will put sustained high pressure on the 'three evil forces'," Rozi Ismail, the president of the Higher People's Court of Xinjiang, told Xinhua in previous interview.

"Stability is paramount in Xinjiang and it is mainly threatened by the 'three evil forces'," said Rozi Ismail. "Our policy is to mete out punishments as severe as the law allows."

But he also said courts should differentiate between crime organizers and accomplices and must consider factors that can bring about lenient punishments as the law stipulates - such as giving police information which leads to the arrest of other suspects.

"Except for some hard-core criminals, many people involved in 'three evil forces' activities can be rehabilitated in prison," he said.

Xinjiang police crushed a terrorist training camp in January, in which 18 terrorists were killed and 17 others captured. The police also seized 22 hand grenades and more than 1,500 half-finished grenades, and some home-made explosives.


Editor:Chen Ge