• In Chinese courts, “death sentence with reprieve” means that if the convicted person commits no crime for two years, it is commuted to life imprisonment.

In Chinese courts, “death sentence with reprieve” means that if the convicted person commits no crime for two years, it is commuted to life imprisonment. (Photo : Getty Images)

The sentences of 11 repentant terrorists in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region have been reduced due to the demonstration of repentance and regret, according to a report by China Daily.

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The group of prisoners includes former heads of a separatist group and a terrorist cell.

The Xinjiang People's High Court's decision to reduce their life sentences into fixed terms, according to the regional politics and law committee, stems from the fact that the prisoners demonstrated regret and repentance.

Of the 11 convicts, seven received reduced sentences.

One of the seven convicts include 42-year-old Memettohut Memetroz, the founder of the East Turkestan Islamic Party. He received terrorist training in Afghanistan prior to the foundation of the terrorist group and later trained locals in Xinjiang to instigate violent attacks.

According to Memettohut, he realized the gravity of his actions when religious leaders started to visit the prison to give lectures about the real Islam. Under the real Islam, the several terrorist attacks he plotted both in China and abroad were unforgivable. He has been serving his sentence since Feb. 2005.

Two other prisoners who received reduced sentences are Memetjon Abudulkadeer and Yushanjon Jilili. The latter was part of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement and rose up the ranks as a key member. Through his role as an imam, Yushanjon was able to carry out terrorist and separatist activities without being detected.

Memetjon, on the other hand, is an educated university teacher who used his profession to recruit members.

Like Memettohut, Yushanjon realized the terrible effects religious extremism has done to him upon being taught what real Islam is. Yushanjon is 48 years old.

Four other prisoners had their sentences reduced by six months, with one already released from prison.

For Shohrat Zakir, chairman of Xinjiang, the obvious regret and repentance the convicts showed has enabled the local government to gain experience in transforming the prisoners from threats to national security into responsible citizens.

There is always hope and opportunity for those who are committed to turn their lives around, added Zhang Chunxian, Xinjiang's top leader.