[JURIST] Two courts in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality sentenced [Xinhua report] six individuals to death on Tuesday for their connections with organized crime gangs. The First Intermediate People's Court sentenced two gang leaders to death and two other members to death with a two-year reprieve. Five other members of the gang were sentenced to 11 years to life in prison for violent crimes committed over an eight-year period. In another trial at the Third Intermediate People's Court, the leader of a 22-member gang was sentenced to death and his accomplice sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve. The gang had been held responsible for the killing of one person and injuring at least four others last year. The gang's other 20 members were given sentences of one to 17 years. The convictions are the first in a series of organized crime trials expected to continue over the coming weeks.
Last week, the Urumqi People's Court sentenced [JURIST report] six individuals to death and three to life in prison for their role in the July riots in Urumqi [JURIST news archive], the capital of China's Xinjiang province. Earlier in the week, six other individuals were sentenced to death, and one more was sentenced to life in prison, for their roles in the riots between Han Chinese and Uighur residents that claimed the lives of approximately 200 people. In July, China said that it planned to reduce [China Daily report] the number of executions it conducts. Anti-death-penalty group Hands Off Cain has said that China continues to account for more executions [JURIST report] than any other country. In 2008, the country executed at least 5,000 people, or more than 87 percent of the world's total. Last year, China's chief justice instructed judges to impose harsh sentences [JURIST report], including the death penalty, for violent crimes.