[JURIST] The Lhasa Municipal Intermediate People's Court in China sentenced two Tibetans to death on Wednesday for their involvement in the March 2008 Lhasa riots [advocacy backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. The two men were found guilty [Xinhua report] of starting fires that led to several deaths. Three other men received delayed death sentences or life imprisonment for their roles in the riots. Together the five men started fires that caused the deaths of seven people and damaged five places of business. This is the first time death sentences have been imposed in relation to the riots. Chinese media is reporting that 76 people have been sentenced [AP report] and more than 950 are being detained for their involvement in the demonstration.
Last month, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] accused [JURIST report] the Chinese government of failing to account for all of the individual that were arrested, detained and on trial as a result of their involvement in the demonstrations. In February, Tibet regional People's Congress announced [JURIST report] that Tibetan courts had convicted 76 people involved in the riots. In November 2008, the UN Committee Against Torture [official website] recommended [press release; JURIST report] that China ensure prompt access to an independent lawyer, independent medical care, and the right to lodge confidential complaints for all persons detained in connection with the March 2008 riots.