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People engaged in Lhasa unrest will be dealt with according to law: senior procurator
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China's judicial organ will properly deal with the people who engaged themselves in creating unrest in Lhasa according to law, said Sun Qian, deputy procurator-general of the Supreme People's Procuratorate, on Saturday.

Sun said the unrest which broke out in Lhasa, capital of Tibet Autonomous Region, was provoked by "a handful of monks" and was a "political scheme premeditated by the Dalai clique to separate Tibet from China and sabotage the normal, harmonious and peaceful life of people in Tibet."

"The unrest is in the process of calming down," said Sun at a press conference on the sidelines of the national legislature's annual session.

Law enforcement authorities in Tibet issued a notice on Saturday, urging lawbreakers in the riot to stop criminal activities and offering leniency to those who surrender themselves.

According to local officials, the death toll from Friday's riot rose to 10. The victims were all innocent civilians, including two hotel employees and two shop owners, and most of them were burnt to death.

At the same press conference, Zhang Jun, vice president of the Supreme People's Court, said Chinese citizens are protected by the Constitution to have the freedom of speech when answering a question raised by a U.S. journalist that asked if Tibetan people would be charged for describing the Lhasa riot to foreign media and criticizing the Olympic Games.

"It is out of question that citizens have the right to express their ideas, including suggestions to and criticisms on the government. The rights are protected by law and Constitution," Zhang said.

It is all right for people to criticize the preparations for the Olympic Games or express their complaints, he added.

However, Zhang said, "Freedom of speech does not mean you won't face punishment for slandering and insulting other people."

Sun Qian, the senior procurator, also slashed rumors that China detained some people on charge of subverting the government just for a successful Olympic Games.

(Xinhua News Agency March 16, 2008)

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