BEIJING (Reuters) - A court in China's vast northern region of Inner Mongolia has sentenced to death a coal mine worker for killing a resident who had complained about pollution, state media said on Tuesday.
The sentence was the second in a matter of weeks involving Inner Mongolia's crucial coal sector, as the government tries to get tough on an industry whose pollution has ignited public anger but fuels the economy.
In the latest case, Sun Shuning was convicted of murdering Yan Wenlong after "a dispute over pollution caused by a coal mine" where Sun worked, the official Xinhua news agency said.
Sun killed Wen with his forklift, the report added.
"The act was utterly cruel, the crime very serious, and the consequences extremely bad," it cited the court in Xilinhot as saying. Xinhua provided no other details of the case.
Earlier this month, a court in the same part of Inner Mongolia ordered the execution of a man for murdering an ethnic Mongolian herder who had also protested against coal mine pollution, a killing that set off days of rare protests.
The death of the herder sparked wider demonstrations by ethnic minority Mongolians demanding better protection of their rights and traditions.
Beijing, ever worried by threats to stability, is now trying to address some of the protesters' broader concerns about the damage done by coal mining to traditional grazing lands.
The authorities have since launched a month-long overhaul of the lucrative coal mining industry, vowing to clean up or close polluters.
Inner Mongolia is China's biggest coal producing region and the protests against the industry have come as severe power shortages loom ahead of the summer's peak energy season.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Alex Richardson)