Mongolian environmental activist convicted

ULAN BATOR, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- Tsetsegee Munkhbayar, a prominent environmental activist in Mongolia, was sentenced to 21 and a half years' imprisonment for using firearms against government officials and threatening the government and mining companies.
After two days of a court trial that continued late into Tuesday night, Munkhbayar and other four members of the "Fire Nation" environmental movement were given various jail terms ranging from two to 21 years and a half.
Munkhbayar and seven of his fellow activists were arrested in possession of weapons outside the Mongolian government house in September last year. Munkhbayar said he had intended to warn the authorities against the government's planned revision of the law that bans mining activity along river basins and forest areas.
Munkhbayar is a well-known environmental activist and a former herder who won the prestigious international environmental award "Goldman Prize" in 2007.
At the closing of the trial, Munkhbayar said he did not commit a crime that deserves such a harsh punishment. He said he simply fulfilled his duty as a citizen to protect his motherland.
Police said Munkhbayar and his fellow environmental activists blackmailed mining companies and attempted to use firearms and explosives against the authorities.
"We don't agree with the sentencing of the primary court and therefore we will appeal," said Tserenkhand, a coordinator of the Confederation of Mongolian River Movements, an umbrella environmental organization which Munkhbayar was also part of.

Source:Xinhua news agency
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