Blaming the 'Dalai Lama clique' for recurring self immolations in Tibet, China today handed down suspended death sentence to a Tibetan Buddhist monk and convicted seven others for inciting people to set themselves on fire to protest harsh Chinese rule.
40-year-old Monk Lorang Konchok was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve and has been stripped of his political rights for life, in what was seen as a deterrent punishment in the region hit by unrest.
His nephew, Lorang Tsering, 31, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and has been stripped of his political rights for three years, state-run Xinhua news agency quoted the court verdict as saying.
The two incited and coerced eight people to self- immolate, resulting in three deaths, the Intermediate People's Court of the Tibetan-Qiang Autonomous Prefecture of Aba found.
Also a county court in Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of northwest China's Gansu Province sentenced six ethnic Tibetans to three to 12 years in prison for their roles in a local villager's self-immolation in October, according to the report.
Asked whether the stiff sentences were aimed curbing self immolations, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei told media that "it is clear from the cases that Dalai Clique is plotting and inciting the self-immolations."
"Relevant personnel incited and abetted others to self-immolate in order to cooperate with the Dalai Clique's political schemes of splitting China," he said.
Such behaviour violates Chinese laws and the people who were sentenced pleaded guilty, Hong said adding that through the trial of cases, the international community can "condemn the ugly behaviour of the Dalai Clique in inciting and abetting self-immolations" .
Monk Konchok was accused by the prosecutors of receiving instructions from fellow Monks settled in Dharmashala and incited the immolations calling for return of the Dalai Lama from self exile. His confessions were widely telecast in China.
About 95 people set themselves on fire in the recent months in different part of Tibet Autonomous Region and Tibetan prefectures, which China blamed it on the Dalai Lama and his supporters to discredit the Chinese government.
Konchok is the second Monk to have been convicted.
Monk Drongdru was sentenced to 11 years in 2011 at the same place for plotting, instigating and assisting the self immolation of fellow monk.
Last month China has brought a new law in Tibet making inciting others to set themselves on fire or not affectively intervening to stop people indulging in such acts as an "intentional homicide".