URUMQI: Three suspects were sentenced to up to 15 years in jail Saturday over syringe stabbings that triggered public scare in Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
Court hearings on two cases involving the three Uygur suspects began at about 10 am at the Municipal Intermediate People's Court of Urumqi and ended at about 1 pm, the first of its kind since many innocent civilians were injured in a series of hypodermic needle attacks from mid-August.
The court sentenced Yilipan Yilihamu, 19, to 15 years in prison for spreading false dangerous substances as he was convicted of inserting a pin into a woman's buttock on Aug. 28.
He was captured on the day hours after the victim reported to police that she was stabbed at a roadside fruit stall.
In a separate trial in the same court, Muhutaerjiang Turdi, a 34-year-old man, and Aimannisha Guli, a 22-year-old woman, was sentenced to 10 years and seven years in jail respectively for robbing a taxi driver on Aug. 29.
The two jointly threatened a taxi driver with a syringe and robbed him of 710 yuan (US$104). The woman was captured on the same day of the robbery and the man surrendered to police three days after.
More than 200 people were present at the court hearings, which proceeded in Uygur language with simultaneous interpretation in mandarin.
Hundreds of people have been stabbed by hypodermic syringes or needles in Urumqi, triggering public angst and wrath.
Tens of thousands of residents took to the streets early this month, demanding security guarantees. Five people died and at least 14 were hospitalized for injuries during the protests.
No death or any case which needs anti-virus drugs has been reported.
The city's public security authorities announced last week that police had caught 45 suspects amid the syringe scare, of whom 12 are in police custody.
Syringe attackers may face harsh punishment in accordance with the law, including life imprisonment and even death penalty if convicted of causing grave consequence, the city's judicial and police authorities have said.