China's former Railways Minister Liu Zhijun receives suspended death sentence for bribery and corruption

Beijing court passes suspended death sentence for abuse of power

Beijing

A Chinese court has given a suspended death sentence to a former Railways Minister, Liu Zhijun, the man behind the country’s high-speed rail project, for his part in a corruption scandal.

Liu’s conviction brings to an end one of the most high-profile corruption cases in years, and makes him the first top official to be jailed since the start of President Xi Jinping’s high-profile campaign against graft. He was given the “death penalty with a two-year reprieve” for bribery and abuse of power, the official Xinhua news agency said. This sentence generally means life in prison.

Liu had been a rail official for most of his life, having held several senior posts before he became minister in 2003. He was sacked as Railways Minister in 2011 after eight years in the job, and the scandal surrounding him is reported to have involved some 800m yuan (£87m).

He was charged with abusing his position to win promotions, project contracts and cargo transportation contracts, personally pocketing 64.6m yuan in bribes during his time in the job. The scale of Liu’s fraud, revealed during the trial, prompted public anger online.

Shuo Duan Shi Hua wrote on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter: “Liu Zhijun took 60m in bribes... he had 374 houses, and only got a suspended death sentence. It’s the same as if he retired.” Another user, Wang Wupeng said: “Now corrupt officials know that they will not die.”

Liu’s corrupt tenure had “inflicted colossal losses in the public assets, violating rights and interests of the state and the people,” the Xinhua news agency reported. “Liu’s crime of bribery… should be given the death penalty,” Xinhua quoted the court as saying. However, he was not executed because he confessed and repented of his crimes, the agency said.

During his tenure, Liu ran the rail system with an iron fist. The government had tried and ultimately failed to reform the ministry due to the minister’s resistance to change. The government finally succeeded in getting rid of the ministry in March, with its administrative functions handed to the transport ministry and its commercial role to a new organisation, the China Railway Corporation.

The government has pledged to open up the industry to private investors, but the tradition of the iron rice bowl – a secure job for life – is strong in China and reforming state monoliths is easier said than done. A high-speed rail crash in the eastern city of Wenzhou killed 40 people in 2011, sparking a wave of public criticism that authorities compromised safety in their rush to expand the network.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Front Of House Team Member

£16500 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales & Marketing Manager

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has won the award ...

Recruitment Genius: Store Manager & Store Supervisor

£19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Case Liaison Officer / Administrator

£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist based in Rochest...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific