Chinese mistress gets life

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The Independent Online

The mistress of a senior Chinese official was sentenced to life in prison in a high-profile corruption case that already has brought a death sentence for the official, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

The mistress of a senior Chinese official was sentenced to life in prison in a high-profile corruption case that already has brought a death sentence for the official, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

The case centered on Cheng Kejie, former deputy chairman of China's national legislature, has been highly publicized in the midst of a lengthy, nationwide antigraft crackdown meant to restore the Communist Party's battered public image.

Cheng's mistress, Li Ping, was convicted by a Beijing court of smuggling and helping to collect bribes totaling 41 million yuan (dlrs 4.9 million), Xinhua said.

Cheng, 66, is the highest-ranking official sentenced to death so far in the crackdown. He was sentenced July 31 on charges that he abused his former position as head of the southern region of Guangxi in 1990-98 to amass a fortune intended to finance his hoped-for marriage to Li.

According to state media, Cheng pressured state banks to approve loans and took kickbacks on a range of projects. Guangxi, a poor, coastal region, is a haven for smugglers.

Li also was fined 400,000 yuan (dlrs 48,000) and the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court stripped her of assets totaling 26.9 million Hong Kong dollars (dlrs 3.4 million), according to Xinhua.

Thousands of officials accused of abuses have been fired, fined, imprisoned, expelled from the party and in some cases executed. When Cheng's arrest was announced in April, a party spokesman blamed the "temptations of women and money."

A deputy provincial governor was executed earlier this year for corruption, and the former party chief of Beijing is serving a 16-year prison term.

A provincial official was dismissed Tuesday from a top government advisory board and expelled from the Communist Party for misusing his post to get jobs for family members.

Cheng's former deputy in Guangxi was sentenced last August to life in prison for taking bribes.

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