7 Chinese minority students are jailed for separatism but get shorter terms than their teacher

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A Chinese lawyer says seven students of a prominent Muslim Uighur scholar who received a life sentence for separatism have been jailed for three to eight years after being convicted on the same charge.

Li Fangping, a defense lawyer for economics professor Ilham Tohti, said Monday that he was informed of the verdicts against the students, who were tried in late November.

Li said it was unclear when the court issued the verdicts. He said the penalties were not as harsh as expected, possibly because the professor was the primary target in the prosecution.

Authorities have accused the professor, an outspoken critic of Beijing's ethnic policies and practices, and his students of forming a criminal gang that sought to split the ethnic region of Xinjiang from China.