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China to execute two for murder of Tibetan spiritual leader

A Chinese court has sentenced two men to death for murdering a renowned Tibetan monk over a "financial dispute." The UK embassy said it opposed capital punishment in a case involving the murder of one of its citizens.

China sentenced two men to death for killing a prominent Tibetan monk who founded Europe's first Tibetan monastery in the UK, state-run media announced late Sunday.

In 2013, Akong Tulku Rinpoche - who fled Tibet in 1959 and lived in exile in Scotland - was stabbed to death along with his accompanying nephew and driver over what Chinese police described as a "financial dispute."

"The defendants' methods were ruthless, the details extremely malicious, and the result extremely serious," the Chengdu court said in a statement carried by the state-run Xinhua news agency.

Thubten Kunsal, one of the men sentenced to death, was an artist at Akong's Kagyu Samye Ling monastery in Scotland between 2002 and 2011, according to the court statement.

Authorities said the violent confrontation started over 2.7 million yuan (376,000 euros, $410,000) in wages owed to Kunsal.

The court handed a three-year prison sentence to a third man, who was convicted for disposing of the knives used in the attack.

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Akong, who held the honoric title of Rinpoche given to the most respected teachers in Tibetan Buddhism, obtained British citizenship after moving to the UK.

He also maintained a relationship with authorities in the Chinese capital Beijing, which allowed him to regularly travel to Tibetan region.

Meanwhile, the British embassy said that it had followed the trial closely and expressed its opposition to capital punishment.

"The British government maintains its longstanding opposition to the death penalty, and has formally communicated this to the Chinese government during the course of the trial," the British embassy said in a statement.

ls/kms (Reuters, AFP)

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