Huseyin Celil, a China-born Uygur described by Chinese authorities as a prominent member of "East Turkistan" terrorist organizations, was sentenced to life imprisonment on Thursday for taking part in terrorist activities and plotting to split the country.
At a court in Urumqi, capital of the northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Celil was convicted on separatism and terrorism charges. He was sentenced to life on the separatism charge and 10 years imprisonment for the charge of terrorism.
In accordance to Chinese law, Celil, 37, will serve life in prison and be deprived on his political rights for life, according to court documents released by the Intermediate People's Court of Urumqi.
Celil was given refugee status by Canada in 2001. He was arrested in Uzbekistan in 2006 and extradited to China soon afterward.
It is not known if Celil will appeal his conviction.
According to the court documents, Celil joined the East Turkistan Liberation Organization (ETLO), a listed terrorist group active in central Asia, in November 1997 and was appointed as a senior instructor in Kyrgyzstan.
While there, Celil allegedly recruited several people to the ETLO and sent them to terrorist training camps on the Kashmir plateau in Pakistan, the documents said.
Celil was also active in another listed terrorist organization, the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), for which he helped raise funds, recruit members and organize training, the documents said.
The documents said that in 1997, Celil met ETIM's former head Hasan Mahsum, who was shot dead by the Pakistan army in 2003, and worked directly under Mahsum's command.
Celil was a key member pushing for the alliance of the ETIM and ETLO in 1998, the documents said.
The documents said Huseyin Celil, with the intention of overthrowing the people's republic and the socialist system, in 1997 provided 80,000 yuan (US$10,256) for the establishment of a new terrorist group, named "Hizbollah", in the southern Guangdong Province.
The money was used for to purchase guns and provide terrorist training, the documents said.
The documents said court had properly appointed a defense lawyer to represent Celil and the time and venue of the trial was publicized three days beforehand.
(Xinhua News Agency April 19, 2007)