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Feature: Monk goads people to commit suicide

English.news.cn   2013-01-28 23:05:59            

ABA, Sichuan, Jan. 28 (Xinhua) -- Facing a murder charge, high-ranking monk Lorang Konchok showed no expression when sitting in the defendant's seat in a court in southwest China's Sichuan Province.

The 40-year-old and his 31-year-old nephew, Lorang Tsering, were accused of inciting eight people to self-immolate, three of whom died last year. They stood trial Saturday morning at the Intermediate People's Court of the Tibetan-Qiang Autonomous Prefecture of Aba.

Wearing a black down jacket, it was hard to tell from Lorang Konchok's appearance that this monk with Geshe, an honorable high-level academic degree for Tibetan monks, had exploited his religious position.

Next to him, Lorang Tsering in a black and navy winter coat looked confused.

The courtroom was packed with more than 130 people including the two defendants' family members and friends, journalists and local legislators.

Attorneys for the defendants were appointed by the court as they did not hire any lawyers themselves. Tibetan translators were also arranged for the proceedings. The trial was carried out in both Mandarin and Tibetan.

A prosecutor read out a police record on the interrogation of Lorang Konchok, saying that he received a phone call from Samtan, an old acquaintance living abroad, after a Kirti Monastery monk named Tapey self-immolated in 2009.

Samtan asked Lorang Konchok to goad more people to self-immolate and collect and send information about self-immolation abroad, according to the police record.

Samtan, 31, used to follow the same master as Lorang Konchok in Kirti Monastery and later left the country illegally. Now he is a key figure of an overseas "Kirti Monastery media liaison team" -- a "Tibet independence" organization of the Dalai Lama clique.

Police evidence showed that Lorang Konchok made 95 calls to various foreign numbers, including Indian ones using a mobile phone from January to August in 2012, prosecutors said.

Lorang Konchok had called his foreign contacts after each of the five self-immolation cases happened in Aba during these months, prosecutors said.

Lorang Konchok occasionally nodded during cross-examination and did not object to the charges.

He confessed that, using the position of a Geshe, he had told local monks and followers that self-immolation was not against Buddhist doctrines and those who did it were "heroes."

According to his statement in court, Lorang Konchok also promised to spread their "deeds" abroad using his foreign contacts so they and their families would be acknowledged and honored.

When asked whether he had thought about self-immolation, he replied, "I dare not. I am afraid of death. I am afraid of pain."

Among the people, who set themselves on fire under the influence of Lorang Konchok, were two monks, 23-year-old Lorang Tsedrup and 19-year-old Tsenam, as well as Jokba, the 19-year-old herdsman from Aba. They all died.

Jokba was introduced to Lorang Konchok by Lorang Tsering. Lorang Konchok had kept telling him the nobility of self-immolation and promised to send his note to his family after his death, according to the prosecutors.

In their closing statement, prosecutors said that Lorang Konchok and Lorang Tsering broke the law, violated conscience and breached the Buddhist doctrine of Ahimsa, or no killing.

According to the Criminal Law, any human life is under the protection of law and depriving somebody of his or her life illegally is intentional homicide, the prosecutors said in their statement.

What the two suspects had done was a challenge to Chinese law and extreme indifference toward other people's lives, which harmed the ethnic harmony in Tibetan-inhabited regions and social stability, the statement said.

They committed the crime in China under a foreign mastermind and the information they passed on abroad spread through overseas media and resulted in negative impacts, the statement said.

The two suspects pleaded guilty and expressed regret while their attorneys argued for a lighter conviction and penalty.

After a four-hour trial, the court adjourned.

"Lorang Konchok did break the law," Jamtso, Lorang Konchok's 45-year-old brother, told reporters after the trial.

Surchung, Lorang Tsering's uncle on his mother's side, told Xinhua that he hoped Lorang Tsering will improve himself in jail.

"He has not had much schooling. He did not know the laws," Surchung said. "I just hope his life will be more stable and better."

Editor: Mu Xuequan
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