A Chinese court has sentenced a former senior presidential aide to life in prison. The confidante to retired President Hu Jintao was found guilty of accepting bribes, illegally obtaining state secrets and abuse of power.
Chinese state media reported Monday that 59-year-old Ling Jihua pleaded guilty and waived his right to appeal following a closed-door trial held last month by the "First Intermediate People's Court" in the northeastern port city of Tianjin.
A former deputy head of China's national political advisory body, Ling was indicted on charges of taking bribes, illegally obtaining state secrets and abuse of power. He also committed adultery and had "traded his power for sex," the government said last year after Ling was formally arrested.
His proximity to former President Hu Jintao, who was in power from 2003 to 2013, has made him one of the most high-profile targets in President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign.
"The trial today is engraved on my bones and in my heart," China's official Xinhua news agency quoted Ling as saying in his final statement to the court.
Son's fatal car crash brought scrutiny
Ling fell out of political favor in 2012 and was demoted from his position just ahead of a once-in-a-decade power transition, after he was involved in the cover-up of his 23-year-old son's death in a speeding sports car.
The crash scandalized China despite a mainland media blackout, partly because two young women, one nude and one partially clothed at the time of the crash, were also injured, with one dying months later.
Internet users questioned how the son of a party official could afford a Ferrari worth a reported 5 million yuan (around 675,815 euros/$750,000).
Critics say that a lack of transparency around the anti-corruption drives has afforded President Xi the means to eliminate political enemies from inside his predecessor's inner circle.
Dozens of powerful state firms have since come under scrutiny, with many high-ranking functionaries put on trial or brought under investigation.
jar/tj (AFP, Reuters, dpa, AP)