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China's ex-minister sentenced to death for graft

July 08, 2013 11:12 IST

China's former Railways Minister Liu Zhijun was on Monday given a suspended death sentence by a court in Beijing for corruption and abuse of power. 

The Beijing number 2 Intermediate People's Court, which is conducting the trial, announced the stiff verdict handing down death sentence to 60-year-old Liu, state-run Xinhua news agency reported quoting verdict.

He was accused of accepting bribes to the tune of $10.53 million over 25 years.

"The combined punishment for Liu's crimes is death penalty with a two-year reprieve, deprival of political rights for life, and confiscation of all personal property," the court said.

Liu was also sentenced to 10 years in jail for abuse of power, according to the court verdict. He headed the railways from 2003 to 2011, during whose tenure China had embarked on the high speed network linking different parts of the country.

His suspended death sentence would come up for judicial review after two years. The stiff sentence against him comes in the wake of promise by China's new leadership headed by President Xi Jinping to crackdown hard on corruption which they said threatened the over 60-year-old hold of the ruling Communist Party on China.

A number of middle rung leaders and officials got similar punishments for corruption as well as sexual misconduct.

The court found that from 1986 to 2011, he took advantage of his positions as official of local railway bureaus as well as the former Ministry of Railways, and helped 11 people, Shao Liping and Ding Yuxin included, win promotions, project contracts, and cargo transportation contracts.

During his tenure as railways minister, Liu helped Ding Yuxin and her relatives to win cargo transportation contracts and railway construction contracts.

He also helped them in the acquisition of shares in a bullet train wheel set company, and with enterprise financing, by breaking regulations and applying favoritism, which allowed Ding and her family to reap huge profits and inflicted colossal losses in the public assets, violating rights and interests of the state and the people.

The court held that Liu's crime of bribery involves especially huge amount of money with especially serious circumstances, and his crime of abuse of power had caused colossal losses in the public assets, violating rights and interests of the state and the people.

Provided with clear, valid and sufficient evidences, the court considered that Liu's crimes should receive punishment according to law.

The court said Liu confessed truthfully to his crimes, and provided further clues of his bribery that are unknown to the investigation organs.

Most of Liu's bribed money and the majority of the economic losses caused by his abuse of power had been recovered.

Liu's crime of bribery, which violated the integrity of state functionary's duty behaviour and undermined state functionary's reputation, should be given death penalty.

However, in consideration of his above-mentioned situations that meet mitigating punishment and his admission of guilty and repentance, Liu was given death penalty with reprieve, the court said.

The court said that although most of economic losses have been recovered, leniency will not be given regarding Liu's crime of power abuse, as it is especially serious in terms of both circumstances and consequences. 

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