BEIJING (AP) – Seven minority students stood trial on separatism charges Tuesday for working on a website run by a prominent Muslim Uighur scholar convicted on the same charge in far western China, a rights lawyer said.
Li Fangping, a defence lawyer for the economics professor Ilham Tohti, said at least three students pleaded not guilty and the court was expected to issue its verdicts at a later date.
He said the students were certain to be found guilty by the same court that sentenced their teacher – known for his criticism of the government and its ethnic policy – to life imprisonment in September and accused the students of being members of the professor’s criminal gang.
“The question is how many years these students will be jailed,” Li said. “But we don’t expect them to be jailed as long as their teacher.”
Repeated calls to the Urumqi Intermediate People’s Court in Xinjiang were unanswered. The court also provided no information on the students’ trials on its official website or social media accounts.