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September 13, 2009

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Court jails 3 syringe attackers

THREE people were sentenced to up to 15 years in jail yesterday over syringe stabbings that triggered public panic in Urumqi, capital of northwestern China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Court hearings on two cases involving two Uygur men and one Uygur woman began about 10 am at the Municipal Intermediate People's Court of Urumqi and ended about 1pm, the first of its kind since many residents had been injured in a series of hypodermic needle attacks from mid-August.

The court sentenced Yilipan Yilihamu, 19, to 15 years for "attacking with hyped toxic substances" after he was convicted of stabbing a woman in the buttock on August 28, Shi Xinli, president of the court, told a press conference after the hearing.

Yilipan was captured just hours after the victim reported to police she had been stabbed at a roadside fruit stall.

"His action violated the Criminal Law and caused public panic and a grave consequence, so he deserved the penalty," said Chen Jing, a professor with the Law School of Xinjiang University.

In a separate trial at the same court, Muhutaerjiang Turdi, a 34-year-old man, and Aimannisha Guli, a 22-year-old woman, were sentenced to 10 years in jail with a fine of 5,000 yuan (US$732) and seven years in prison with a fine of 3,000 yuan respectively for robbing a taxi driver on August 29, Shi said.

The two threatened a taxi driver with a syringe and robbed him of 710 yuan.

The man was given a 14-year jail term for robbery in 2001 and was set free in September last year. The woman was sentenced to one year in prison in January 2007 for theft and had been released in October the same year.

Hundreds of people are said to have been stabbed by hypodermic syringes or needles in Urumqi and tens of thousands of residents took to the streets early this month, demanding security guarantees. Five people died and at least 14 were treated in hospital for injuries during the protests.

The city's public security authorities said last week that police had caught 45 suspects in the syringe scare, of whom 12 are in police custody.


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