Residents laud Urumqi needle verdicts

Source: Global Times [08:57 September 14 2009]

By Huang Jingjing in Beijing and Qiu Yongzheng in Urumqi

The prison terms handed to three suspects convicted Saturday of syringe stabbings in Urumqi, the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, were met with praise from academics and average residents.

The Municipal Intermediate People's Court sentenced Yilipan Yilihamu, 19, of Urumqi, to 15 years in prison for using a needle to attack a woman on August 28, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

In a separate trial in the same court, Muhutaerjiang Turdi, a 34-year-old man, got 10 years, and Aimannisha Guli, a 22-year-old woman, received seven years.

The pair threatened a taxi driver with a syringe on August 29 and then robbed him of 710 yuan ($104), which they used to buy drugs.

"The verdicts were fair and accurate. It was the first step of a resolute fight against those who destroyed peace and unity," said Pan Zhiping, director of the Institute of Central Asian Studies at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences.

"The verdicts will bring confidence to uneasy residents in the city," Pan added.

The city's public security department announced last week that police have captured 45 suspects for their role in syringe attacks, of whom 12 are in police custody.

The trial for a second group of suspects is scheduled for this week, an official surnamed Liu from the CPC Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Political and Legislative Affairs Committee, told the Global Times yesterday.

Saturday's quick verdicts were praised by some local residents.

He Jun, a resident who has lived in Kashgar for more than 40 years, said most of his Uygur friends support the ruling.

"Most people were happy with the sentence, because the attack was horrible. Till now, many parents have to escort their children to school and home. And many police officers have to keep patrolling day and night," He told the Global Times yesterday.

"The harm and losses the criminals caused to society are incredible," he added.

Shi Jinyang, a local taxi driver, was in support of severe prison time.

"Only harsh punishment of criminals and the restoration of a safe living environment could repair people's psychological trauma," Shi told the Global Times.

He wants the government to take immediate action against any future security threats.

More than 200 people, including families of the defendants and victims, attended the court hearings.

Since August, hundreds of people have been stabbed with hypodermic syringes in Urumqi and nearby cities, triggering public angst and wrath.

No fatalities or serious infections have been reported.

Tens of thousands of local people took to the streets earlier this month to demand protection from the attackers, reports said.

Test samples negative

Tests done on samples retrieved from victims stabbed with hypodermic needles in Urumqi, capital of China's far western Xinjiang region, found no dangerous viruses or chemicals, a military medical expert said Sunday. Qian Jun, head of the disease control and biological security office with China's Academy of Military Medical Sciences, said the academy's Beijing lab found that none of the samples from the needle injuries showed signs of radioactive substances, toxic chemicals or HIV virus. The samples were not contaminated with other dangerous viruses or substances either, such as anthrax bacillus, yersinia pestis, francisella tularensis, brucella and botulinum toxin, Qian told a press briefing. Experts rechecked about 250 victims and found no further problems with their wounds.

The Urumqi General Hospital affiliated to the Lanzhou Military Area Command has arranged three psychological experts and opened four counselling hotlines to ease victims' fears and panic.