China: Death For Man In Brawl Linked To Riots

A Chinese court sentenced a man to death Saturday for his role in a toy factory brawl that sparked riots in western Xinjiang region that left almost 200 dead in China's worst ethnic violence in decades.

Another man was given life imprisonment for the June 26 brawl at a toy factory in southern Guangdong province that pitted workers from the Uighur minority group against Han Chinese, who make up most of China's population. The melee left two Uighur employees dead.

Ten days later, Uighur youths protested thousands of miles (kilometers) away in the far-western city of Urumqi to demand a full investigation into the incident, which erupted into rioting that left almost 200 people dead.

State television CCTV said Xiao Jianhua was given death and Xu Qiqi was given life in prison on charges of intentionally harming others. No other details were given, but their names suggest they are members of the Han majority.

Both were among 11 suspects indicted by prosecutors on charges of either causing intentional injury or group brawling. The nine other suspects were sentenced to prison terms from five to eight years for the violence at the Xuri Toy Factory in Shaoguan, Xinhua said.

According to reports, the fight started after a Han Chinese girl entered a factory dormitory where Uighur workers were staying, leading to a rumor that she had been sexually assaulted. Uighurs have been recruited in recent years to work at factories along the industrialized southeastern coast, where they often coexist uneasily with their Han neighbors.

Another 118 people were injured in the factory brawl that followed, including 14 seriously.

China later accused Uighurs of sensationalizing news of the fight as part of a plot to set off the July 5 rioting in Urumqi, which it blames on overseas-based groups agitating for greater Uighur rights in their Xinjiang homeland.