A Chinese official in Sichuan province commented on the case of imprisoned Tibetan lama Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, saying that he had heard that he “behaved well in prison”, according to the news agency Agence France-Presse. The official, named as Zheng, at the south-west Sichuan province prison administrative bureau, said: “I heard they’re considering changing his penalty to life imprisonment or a fixed-term penalty. It’s because he behaved well in prison.” (AFP, 13 December 2004).

While Mr Zheng’s comments are not likely to constitute an official statement on the case, they are a positive indication. According to Chinese law, a prisoner sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve will receive a commutation to a prison sentence unless the prisoner commits another intentional crime during the reprieve, and is tried and convicted for that crime. So far n reports have emerged suggesting that Tenzin Delek has committed any new crimes during his reprieve, which apparently became effective on January 26, 2003, when the Sichuan Higher People’s Court rejected his appeal.

For further information on a Senate resolution on the case see this ICT report.