Former high-ranking China politician gets life sentence for taking bribes

08/05 06:28Chinese Court Sentences Ex-Top Communist Official to Life Term for Graft - Media

The former Communist Party boss had admitted in April to an intermediate court in the city of Tianjin that he had taken bribes of more than 170 million yuan ($27 million).

Favored by Communist Party elders, Sun was seen as a rising star before he became snared in Chinese president Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign, which kicked off after Xi took power in 2012.

Sun Zhengcai, a member of the ruling Politburo until he was unexpectedly ousted previous year, pleaded guilty to corruption in April.

Many China politics experts and some party insiders attribute Mr. Sun's downfall to his reputation as a possible next-generation leader whose ties were to senior party figures other than Mr. Xi.

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Zhengcai, the former party chief of Chongqing, pleaded guilty.

Sun and his alleged associates were accused of accepting the money and assets in return for providing help to unspecified organisations and individuals, business operations and other matters, the court said.

South China Morning Post said the amount of bribes involved was punishable by death but the court said it took mitigating factors into account, including that most of the bribes were taken by "designated parties" and that Sun gave investigators additional, previously unknown information about his crimes.

According to the prosecution, Sun had committed those crimes in the years between 2002 and 2017 during his time as a district party chief in Beijing, Minister of Agriculture, Political Bureau member of the CPC Central Committee and Party chief in north-eastern Jilin province and megacity Chongqing.

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Mr Xi has presided over a popular anti-graft drive since coming to power in 2012 that has punished more than one million officials. He was also deprived of his political rights for life.

Mr Sun was replaced in Chongqing by Chen Min'er, a former aide and protégé of Mr Xi who was elevated to the 25-member Politburo at the national party congress in October.

Xi's critics allege that he has used the campaign against his political rivals.

Xi in March saw through a constitutional amendment removing term limits on the presidency, setting himself up to remain head of state indefinitely.

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