Former minister for railways jailed for corruption in China
Liu Zhijun, first top official jailed under president’s anti-corruption drive, took €8.2 million in bribes
China’s former railways minister Liu Zhijun was given the “death penalty with a two-year reprieve” for bribery and abuse of power, a sentence that generally means life in prison. Photograph: Reuters
A Chinese court has given a suspended death sentence to former rail minister Liu Zhijun, the man behind the country’s high-speed rail project, for his part in a corruption scandal.
He is the first top official to be jailed since the start of President Xi Jinping’s campaign on graft and 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, studying transport management and holding several senior posts before he became minister in 2003.
He was sacked as railways minister in 2011 after eight years, and the scandal surrounding him is reported to have involved 800 million yuan (€102 million).
He abused his position to win promotions, and project and cargo transportation contracts, trousering 64.6 million yuan (€8.2 million) in bribes.
The reaction online was angry. Shuo duan shi hua wrote on Sina Weibo: “Liu Zhijun took 60 million in bribes, cash 900 million, he had 374 houses, and only got a suspended death sentence. It’s the same as if he retired.”
Another webizen, Wang Wupeng, said: “Now corrupt officials know they will not die.”
Avoided death penalty
His corrupt tenure “inflicted colossal losses in the public assets, violating rights and interests of the state and the people,” Xinhua reported. “Liu’s crime of bribery should be given the death penalty,” it quoted the court as saying. He was not executed because he confessed and repented of his crimes.
He ran the rail system with an iron fist. The government has tried to reform the ministry.
The government got rid of the ministry in March, with its administrative functions handed to the transport ministry and its commercial role to the China Railway Corporation.