China has so far convicted 198 people linked to the bloody ethnic riots last July in its troubled Xinjiang region, a top official said on Sunday, warning that final figure will be more.
Nur Berkri, chairman of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous regional government, said 198 people have been convicted for involvement in the deadly riots between native Uyghurs and Hans Chinese eight months ago in the northwest Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. The senior local official said the "secessionists" movement might turn more violent.
"The investigation, prosecution and trial are still going on, and the final figure of the people sentenced will be more than that," Berkri told a press conference on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People's Congress, the country's top legislature.
He refused to give details of the number sentenced to death or how many had been executed.
The riot in the Xinjiang regional capital of Urumqi on July 5, 2009, left 197 people dead and more than 1,700 injured in the clashes between Uyghur Muslims and Han Chinese.
Berkri said it demonstrated that the struggle against secession in Xinjiang will be long-drawn, complicated and acute.
Berkri underlined that a few secessionists are reluctant to allow people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang to live a happy life... and they do everything possible to sabotage ethnic relations, distort Xinjiang's history, and advocate their ideas of secession.
"We believe they will become more violent after the July 5 riots and will launch new attacks. But no matter what methods they use, they are doomed to failure," official Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying."Any criminal activity that undermines social order and damages people's life and property will be punished by law," he said.