Home News Liu Zhijun, China’s ex-railway minister, sentenced to death for corruption

Liu Zhijun, China’s ex-railway minister, sentenced to death for corruption

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BEIJING — China handed down a suspended death sentence on a former railways minister for corruption, state media said, a case seen as a test of President Xi Jinping’s resolve to crack down on pervasive graft.

Liu Zhijun was given the “death penalty with a two-year reprieve”, for bribery and abuse of power, the official Xinhua news agency said, a sentence that typically amounts to life in prison.

Since becoming Communist Party boss in November, and president in March, Mr Xi has made battling rampant corruption a key objective of his administration, warning that the problem is so severe it could threaten the party’s survival.

Liu’s case drew a lot of attention when it first broke, but has been overshadowed by the much more sensational case of the former party chief of Chongqing, the ambitious Bo Xilai.

Bo’s downfall last year, amid lurid accusations of murder and diplomatic intrigue, caused division and uncertainty as the party prepared to transfer power to a new generation of leaders.

The government has yet to announce a trial date for Bo, or the charges he will face.

Liu is the highest-ranking official sentenced since Mr Xi took office, although the case predates his watch. The new president has said anti-corruption efforts should target low-ranking “flies” as well as powerful “tigers”, but few high-level violators have been probed yet.

Liu, 60, was formally charged in April with abuse of power and taking bribes, conduct that led to “huge losses” of public assets, according to Xinhua.

He was sacked in February last year and later expelled from the Communist Party. Liu had successfully resisted a merger with the Ministry of Transport six years ago, but the government announced in March the two ministries would be joined.

Xinhua has said Liu took advantage of his position and helped 11 people to either get promotions or win contracts, in return accepting 64.6 million yuan (S$13.51 million) in bribes between 1986 and 2011.

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