China has executed a truck driver for killing an ethnic Mongol herder in a case that sparked Inner Mongolia's largest demonstrations in 20 years.
The official Xinhua News Agency said in a brief report that Li Lindong was executed Aug. 18. The report, dated Aug. 19, was posted to a regional news website and appeared to not be widely circulated.
The herder, Mergen, who like many Mongols uses just one name, was killed May 10 while he and others were blocking the road through their village to protest noise and pollution produced by coal trucks transiting the grasslands. Police said Li ran over Mergen and then dragged his body for 160 yards (145 meters) before he died.
His death and that of another Mongol in a clash with Chinese coal miners sparked protests across the sprawling northern pastureland by herders and students demanding justice and greater protection for Mongol culture and the nomadic herding lifestyle.
Li was sentenced in June after a six-hour trial at the Intermediate People's Court in the region's Xilingol League. Fellow driver Lu Xiangdong, who had been sitting in the cab of Li's truck when he drove over the herder, was also convicted of homicide and sentenced to life in prison, state media said earlier.
Two other people, Wu Xiaowei and Li Minggang, were convicted of obstructing justice and given three-year sentences for having blocked police who arrived at the scene, allowing Li Lindong and Lu to escape.
Mass migration to the Inner Mongolia region by members of China's majority Han ethnic group and a booming mining industry have placed traditional ways of life under severe pressure.
China is the world's largest enforcer of the death penalty and is believed to execute more people each year than the rest of the world combined, although the actual figure is a state secret.