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China sentences 55 prisoners in front of 7,000-person stadium audience

China sentences 55 prisoners in front of 7,000-person stadium audience

On Tuesday, China sentenced 55 prisoners — on charges ranging from acts of terrorism to murder. But the sentencing didn't take place in a courtroom. Instead, it was carried out in a stadium packed with 7,000 people in the country's volatile northwestern Xinjiang region. The sentencing was meant to be a "show of force" following last week's deadly attack on a vegetable market.

Wearing orange vests, prisoners were seen standing on a dozen trucks parked in two rows in the middle of the stadium. Police forced defendants to bow their heads when their verdicts were read, while the audience members, who appeared to have dressed up for the occasion, looked on. Few details have been revealed about who the prisoners are, but of the names reported, all are believed to be members of the region's Muslim Uighur community.

The mass sentencing comes during China's year-long effort aimed at clamping down on "violent terrorism, separatism, and religious extremism" that have rocked the region. --Jordan Valinsky