Former top cops receive suspended death sentences from China's Xi Jinping

Chinese authorities have announced a spate of high-profile sentences this week, as an anti-graft campaign kicks into high gear ahead of a political meeting next month where President Xi Jinping is expected to secure an unprecedented third term

Agence France-Presse September 24, 2022 15:35:00 IST
Former top cops receive suspended death sentences from China's Xi Jinping

In this image taken from video footage run by China's CCTV, Sun Lijun, former vice minister of public security, attends a court sentencing in Changchun in northeastern China's Jilin province. CCTV via AP

A Chinese former top security official faces life in prison after a court on Friday hit him with a suspended death sentence for bribery and other crimes, adding to a flurry of corruption verdicts in recent days.

Sun Lijun’s death sentence will be commuted to life imprisonment after two years, according to a statement by the Intermediate People’s Court in the city of Changchun.

Chinese authorities have announced a spate of high-profile sentences this week, as an anti-graft campaign kicks into high gear ahead of a political meeting next month where President Xi Jinping is expected to secure an unprecedented third term.

More than a million officials have been punished under the campaign, which critics argue is also a vehicle for Xi to oust political enemies.

The court said Sun, who previously served as vice-minister of public security, had abused his power in a number of influential positions between 2001 and 2020.

The 53-year-old pleaded guilty in July to accepting more than 646 million yuan ($91 million) in bribes.

His other offences included manipulating the securities market and illegally owning firearms, the court statement said.

“(He is) deprived of political rights for life and all personal property should be confiscated,” it said.

“Sun Lijun took a particularly large amount in bribes (to) seek work promotions and adjustments for many people,” the statement continued.

Sun previously served as the head of security affairs for Hong Kong when the semi-autonomous city was convulsed by pro-democracy protests.

Corruption crackdown

Since coming to power a decade ago, Xi has waged a campaign against corruption in the ruling Communist Party, vowing to clamp down hard on high-profile “tiger” officials as well as more lowly “flies”.

And with the twice-a-decade party congress looming in mid-October, Xi has ramped up the pace with several big names falling under the campaign’s wheels this week alone.

China’s opaque courts answer to the Communist Party and have a near-100 percent criminal conviction rate.

On Thursday, former justice minister Fu Zhenghua received a life sentence for taking bribes worth more than 117 million yuan.

Before entering semi-retirement in May 2020, Fu is thought to have orchestrated the corruption investigation into former security chief Zhou Yongkang, who was jailed in 2015 in arguably the campaign’s highest-profile case to date.

Three former police chiefs were also given severe sentences for corruption on Wednesday, accused of being part of Sun’s “political clique”.

They included Gong Dao’an, former police chief of Shanghai; Deng Huilin, former police chief of Chongqing; and Liu Xinyun, former police chief of coal-rich Shanxi province.

Gong, former deputy mayor and director of the Shanghai Public Security Bureau, was given a life sentence for accepting bribes worth 73.43 million yuan, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

Deng, the former director of the Chongqing Public Security Bureau, was jailed for 15 years for taking 42.67 million yuan in bribes, according to the same outlet.

Liu, the former top cop in Shanxi, was imprisoned for 14 years for taking bribes worth 13.33 million, CCTV said.

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