China's ex-minister sentenced to death for graft, power misuse

Liu Zhijun

China's former Railways Minister Liu Zhijun was today given a suspended death sentence by a court here for corruption and abuse of power.

The Beijing No. 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 USD 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.

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