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China jails ex-Politburo member for graft

May 8, 2018

A court in China has sentenced former top Communist Party official Sun Zhengcai to life in prison. Sun, once considered a future candidate for president, was found guilty of accepting millions in bribes.

Sun Zhengcai
Image: picture-alliance/Imaginechina/W. Yao

Sun Zhengcai, former Communist Party boss of the southwestern city of Chongqing, was handed a life sentence Tuesday for corruption.

The ex-Politburo member is one of the most high-profile politicians to be targeted by President Xi Jinping's sweeping anti-graft campaign. 

The intermediate court in Tianjin said Sun was found to have taken bribes worth 170 million yuan ($26.7 million; €22 million). It said his personal property had been confiscated and that he would be deprived of his political rights for life.

Read more: 'The Chinese Dream' and Xi Jinping's power politics

"After the judgment was announced, Sun Zhengcai told the court he admitted his guilt, expressed repentance, accepted the decision, and said he would not appeal," the official Xinhua news agency said, citing the Tianjin court.

Last month, the 54-year-old pleaded guilty to accepting bribes during the 15 years he held top positions in Beijing, Jilin province and Chongqing, as well as during his term as minister of agriculture.

Read more: China's corruption 'tiger hunt' - A political weapon for Xi Jinping?

Shattered political career

As one of the youngest of the 25 members in the powerful Politburo ruling body, Sun had been seen in some circles as a potential successor to President Xi before he was suddenly removed from his post in Chongqing last July.

He was replaced by Xi protege Chen Min'er, who was later promoted to the Politburo.

Read more: Xi Jinping — the man who decides the fate of billions

Thousands of officials, including senior party members, have faced prosecution since Xi launched his war on corruption in 2012. Critics, however, have described it as a political purge rather than a campaign solely targeting criminal behavior.

nm/jm (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)

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