Chinese authorities in Tibet have sentenced two Tibetan monks to life imprisonment in connection with an explosion that injured four Chinese gold miners earlier this year, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports.
Tenzin Khedup and Thupten Thabkai, both Tibetan Buddhist monks, drew life sentences and fines of 29,000 yuan and 19,000 yuan, respectively, at a public meeting of some 6,000 people in the Tengchen area of Tibet’s Chamdo Prefecture, according to RFA’s Tibetan service. A third defendant, Damdul, received a sentence of three years’ imprisonment. A fourth, Thupten Sherab, also a monk, was acquitted and released.
The sentences were handed down last month by the Chamdo Intermediate Court and Tengchen Local Court. News reports from Tibet are often delayed because of strict official controls.
Khedup and Thabkai were subjected to torture and forced to give false confessions, according to a Tibetan source who spoke to RFA on condition of anonymity. Sherab, who was released, “was the youngest of the men arrested,” the source said.< Court and police officials declined to comment on the case. The four men were among 16 Tibetans arrested July 18, one week after an explosion in a miner's tent seriously injured four Chinese gold miners. Authorities zeroed in on local Tibetans who were nearby when the explosion occurred, arresting 10 monks and six others in the Tengchen area, according to a witness who asked not to be named. Among the 16 Tibetans who were arrested, a monk named Marong Tseta was beaten to death and another monk was tortured with an electric prod, the witness said, citing one of the Tibetans who was detained along with Tseta. "Forty monks have been expelled from the local monastery (Trido Chu Monastery), and new enrollment has been stopped," one source said. "The same monastery used to have 150 monks."