A court in Xinjiang yesterday sentenced two people to death and another to a life in prison for the murder of Jume Tahir, the Uyghur imam of China’s biggest mosque, state media report.
Gheni Hansan and Nurmemet Abidili were both sentenced to death for forming and leading terrorist groups and for murder, the Kashgar Intermediate People’s Court said. Atawulla Tursun was given life behind bars for conspiring in the attack, Xinhua reports.
The 74-year-old imam was attacked and killed by three men around 7:00 a.m. outside of the 600-year-old Id Kah mosque located in Kashgar. Two men in the group were shot dead at the scene, while 19-year-old Nurmemet Abidili was detained.
The court said that the group trained its members to murder patriotic religious figures. In a televised prison interview with two of the suspects that aired on a Xinjiang news program last month, Abidili said that he “thought killing the imam would be a grand achievement and would make us more influential.”
Following his arrest, he said that the group had introduced him to the concept of jihad. “It was the first time I had heard of jihad…I was very excited. I wanted to do something big.”
The trial was open for members of the public to attend, Xinhua said.