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Syringe attackers get up to 15 years in jail

2009-09-14 10:58 BJT

Special Report: 7.5 Xinjiang Urumqi Riots |

By Cui Jia and Cai Ke

URUMQI: No radioactive, toxic or viral substances, such as AIDS, were found in blood samples taken from victims of the recent spate of syringe attacks in Urumqi after being tested at a laboratory in Beijing, an expert said Sunday.

But Qian Jun, director of Disease Control and Biological Security Office with China's Academy of Military Medical Sciences, said: "Although no radioactive or toxic substances were found, some patients showed various levels of anxiety and depression and have been recommended for psychological counseling."

On Saturday, the first group of syringe attack suspects went on trial in Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, following a series of attacks on at least 500 people in the city since mid-August.

Two men and a woman were given sentences ranging from seven to 15 years in jail for syringe stabbings or robberies in which they threatened their victims with needles. Both trials took place in the Uygur language according to the defendants' wishes, with interpretation in Mandarin.

The court sentenced 19-year-old Yilipan Yilihamu to 15 years in prison for injecting a hypodermic needle into a woman's buttocks on Aug 28 at a roadside fruit stall.

Yilihamu initially denied the charge but later changed his plea to guilty after evidence was shown in court. He plans to appeal.

"The penalty given to Yilihamu is appropriate because his action caused public panic and led to grave consequences. He violated the Criminal Law," Chen Jing, a professor with the Law School of Xinjiang University, told China Daily.

"It's only been just over two weeks between the arrest and sentencing of the suspect. The speedy trials showed the government's determination to crack down on crime and to foil any attempts to undermine social stability."