Sunday 25 September 2016

Life in jail for China's former chief of security

Cathy LeCroix

Published 12/06/2015 | 02:30

Zhou Yongkang, China's former domestic security chief, attends his sentence hearing in a court in Tianjin, China. Photo: Reuters
Zhou Yongkang, China's former domestic security chief, attends his sentence hearing in a court in Tianjin, China. Photo: Reuters
Zhou Yongkang, China's former domestic security chief.

China sentenced its powerful former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang to life in jail yesterday, after he was found guilty at a secret trial of bribery, leaking state secrets and abuse of power, in China's most sensational corruption scandal in 70 years.

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Zhou, who was formally charged last year, was tried in the northern city of Tianjin on May 22, admitted his guilt and decided not to appeal against the verdict, state media said.

The verdict was read out on state television.

Zhou (72) is the most senior Chinese official to be ensnared in a graft scandal since the Communist party swept to power in 1949. The decision to try Zhou underscores President Xi Jinping's pledge to fight corruption at the highest levels.

"I accept the prosecution's accusations, and the basic facts are clear; I admit my guilt and am penitent," the official Xinhua news agency paraphrased Zhou as telling the court.

One source with direct knowledge of the situation told Reuters news agency that Zhou was guarded by soldiers rather than members of the police force he used to command.

"He was cooperative during interrogations," the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "His attitude was good."

In ordering the investigation into Zhou, Mr Xi broke with an unwritten understanding that members of the Politburo Standing Committee would not come under such scrutiny after retirement.

Zhou's alleged crimes took place over decades, including when he was deputy general manager of China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), party boss in southwestern Sichuan province, minister of public security and a member of the Politburo Standing Committee, according to the initial indictment.

The page-and-a-half statement published by Xinhua gave brief but tantalising details of the trial, though it did not elaborate on the nature of the state secrets he leaked.

Zhou handed over six secret documents from his office to a person named Cao Yongzheng, Xinhua said. Respected Chinese business magazine Caixin has previously identified Cao as a mystic.

As well as hearing testimony from his wife and son, CNPC's former head Jiang Jiemin also testified. Mr Jiang, a former close associate of Zhou, went on trial in April accused of corruption, but has yet to be sentenced.

State television showed a white-haired Zhou, who had not been seen in public since October 2013, admitting his guilt.

Zhou was a member of the Politburo Standing Committee - China's apex of power - and held the post of security tsar until he retired in 2012.

Irish Independent

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