Tibetan activist sentenced to 15 years in prison

A Tibetan environmentalist once praised as a model philanthropist was sentenced to 15 years in prison Thursday on charges of grave robbing and dealing in looted antiquities, in a case supporters said was aimed at punishing his activism.
HT Image
HT Image
Updated on Jun 24, 2010 11:08 PM IST
Copy Link
AP | By, Xinjiang

A Tibetan environmentalist once praised as a model philanthropist was sentenced to 15 years in prison Thursday on charges of grave robbing and dealing in looted antiquities, in a case supporters said was aimed at punishing his activism.

The trial of Karma Samdrup came after he spoke up for his two brothers, also activists, who were detained after accusing local officials in eastern Tibet of poaching endangered species. Authorities in tightly controlled Tibet are extremely sensitive to social activism and criticism, either explicit or implied.

The cases come amid increased repression of Tibetan intellectuals, an echo of the massive security crackdown that followed rioting in the capital, Lhasa, in 2008 in which at least 22 people died. In addition to the prison sentence, Karma Samdrup was stripped of his political rights for five years and fined 10,000 yuan ($1,500) after a three-day trial with sessions that lasted until midnight, lawyer Pu Zhiqiang told The Associated Press.

"I want to appeal, I have to appeal," Karma Samdrup's wife, Zhenga Cuomao, quoted him as saying after the verdict was handed down at the court in remote Yanqi county in the Xinjiang region adjoining Tibet.

Phones at the court rang unanswered Thursday night after the verdict was announced.Pu complained of irregularities in the trial, including witnesses who testified against Karma Samdrup that defense attorneys did not recognize. Karma Samdrup's wife and lawyers have accused police of torturing him in custody. In his statement to the court, he said that during months of interrogation, officers beat him, deprived him of sleep for days and drugged him with a substance that made his eyes and ears bleed, they said.

"I cannot recognize him anymore. I can only recognize his voice," Zhenga Cuomao said. "He used to be so tall, so strong ... now he looks so fragile."

The charges against Karma Samdrup _ named philanthropist of the year in 2006 by state broadcaster CCTV _ date back to 1998 but were not pursued until this year.

The accusations stem from purchases that Karma Samdrup made of carpets, wooden artifacts and other antiques at a shop in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, Pu said. He added that Karma Samdrup bought the items because he was interested in them as a collector, but did not know that they had been plundered from graves in the region. Karma Samdrup's younger brother, Chime Namgyal, is reportedly serving a 21-month sentence in a labor camp on the vague charge of harming national security. His older brother, Rinchen Samdrup, was scheduled to be tried on a similar charge this week, but that date has been postponed.

Close Story

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • People stand next to their empty cylinders as they wait in a queue to buy domestic cooking gas, amid the country's economic crisis, in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

    Thousands queue for petrol, gas in Sri Lanka amid warnings of food shortages

    Thousands of people queued for cooking gas and petrol in Sri Lanka's commercial capital on Friday and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe warned of a food shortage as the island nation battles a devastating economic crisis. "Only about 200 cylinders were delivered, even though there were about 500 people," said Mohammad Shazly, a part-time chauffeur in a queue for the third day in the hope of procuring cooking gas forShazly'ss family of five.

  • A roof batten is stuck in the windshield of a parked car in Paderborn, western Germany.

    'Tornado' in western Germany injures 30: Police

    More than 30 people were injured, including 10 seriously, on Friday in a "tornado" which hit the western German city of Paderborn, a police spokesman told AFP. The tornado also caused significant damage in the city in the North Rhine-Westphalia state and followed abnormally high temperatures for the time of year.

  • In this photo provided by the Myanmar Military True News Information Team, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, right, head of the military council, shakes hand with Yawd Serk, chairman of Shan State Army, during their meeting Friday, May 20, 2022, in Naypyitaw, Myanmar. (Military True News Information Team via AP)

    Myanmar's military leader begins peace talks with ethnic militia groups

    Massive opposition to the army’s takeover has evolved into what some U.N. experts characterize as a civil war. The new armed rebel groups opposed to the takeover have allied themselves with some of the major ethnic minority guerrilla organizations, stretching the military's resources. Offering generous peace terms to the ethnic groups could shake the anti-government alliances.

  • Canada bans luxury goods trade with Russia, punishes more oligarchs (REUTERS)

    Canada bans luxury goods trade with Russia, punishes more oligarchs

    Canada announced Friday a ban on trade in luxury goods with Russia, and added 14 more Russian oligarchs and other associates of President Vladimir Putin to its sanctions list imposed over the invasion of Ukraine. The ban aligns with similar measures imposed by allies such as the United States and the European Union, and "will help to mitigate the potential for Russian oligarchs to circumvent restrictions in other luxury goods markets," the government said.

  • The UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet will begin her long-anticipated visit to China on May 23, including to the Xinjiang region where authorities stand accused of widespread violations. (AFP)

    UN rights chief to visit China next week, travel to Xinjiang

    The UN human rights Michelle Bachelet's six-day China visit -- the first since 2005 -- beginning Monday will include a trip to the northwestern Chinese province of Xinjiang, where China has been accused of human rights violations. Bachelet will be in China between May 23 and 28 during which she will visit Urumqi and Kashgar in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region and the southern province of Guangzhou.

Story Saved
Saved Articles
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Saturday, May 21, 2022