China sentences Tibetan 'Living Buddha' to eight years in jail

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Shanghai (China), Dec.31 (ANI): A senior Tibetan religious leader, known as a "Living Buddha", has been sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in prison after being arrested in the wake of protests last year.

According to The Telegraph, Phurbu Tsering Rinpoche, the 52-year-old head of the Pangri and Yatseg nunneries in Kardze County, was arrested in a dawn raid on May 18, 2008.

Four days earlier, nuns belonging to his nunneries staged protests against China's compulsory "patriotic education" campaign in the region.

Tensions were high in Tibet at the time in the wake of the 50th anniversary of the Dalai Lama's flight into exile and the beginning of Chinese rule.

Phurbu, who also operated a home for the elderly and took care of orphans and handicapped children, was initially charged with the illegal possession of firearms. Police said they discovered a pistol and more than 100 rounds of ammunition hidden in his house. He was also later charged with the illegal occupation of state landThe monk's legal team said the firearms had been planted and a confession extracted through torture.

They added that while his property had been ceded to him, the paperwork had not been drawn up correctly.

An initial trial last year provoked a wave of media attention and a verdict was never returned.

"The story of this religious leader is symptomatic of Beijing's heavy-handed treatment of Tibetans," claimed Woeser, a leading Tibetan activist. (ANI)

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