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China: Ex-railway minister charged with bribery, power abuse

China on Wednesday charged a former Railways minister with bribery and abusing power for personal gains. Sutirtho Patranobis reports.

world Updated: Apr 10, 2013 20:01 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times

China on Wednesday charged a former Railways minister with bribery and abusing power for personal gains.

A Beijing court said that Liu Zhijun, who was heading the Railways in July 2011 when two high speed trains collided, leaving 40 dead, said he received bribes and was responsible for huge losses of public properties.

Besides leading to a national outcry, the train crash had brought public focus on corruption and scandals within the Railway ministry.

Liu was expelled from the Communist Party of China (CPC) last May after being found guilty of corruption, the CPC disciplinary watchdog had announced.

Liu, also former Party chief of the Railways Ministry, had been under investigation since February 2011, when he was removed from his position on suspicion of "serious disciplinary violations."

According to the indictment issued by the Second Branch of Beijing People's Procuratorate, on Wednesday "as a state functionary, Liu sought benefits for others by taking advantage of his position, and accepted financial incentives from others, which were of a huge amount."

The indictment said as a "member of staff of a state organ, Liu engaged in malpractices for personal gains and abuse of power, leading to huge losses of public properties and of the interests of the state and its people."

It added that because of "especially serious circumstances," Liu should be subject to criminal liabilities for bribe taking and abuse of power according to law.

Liu's expulsion and investigations into deals struck during his tenure were closely followed by citizens. His indictment on Wednesday and subsequent sentencing is being seen as test case for President Xi Jinping who has repeatedly talked about fighting corruption since taking office.

Plagued by controversies, the Railways, with the largest network of tracks in the world, was merged last month with the Transport ministry.

Investigators had earlier found that Liu used his position to seek "huge illegal interests for Ding Yuxin, chairman of Beijing Boyou Investment Management Corporation, maneuvering which caused great economic losses and negative social influence, according to a statement issued by the CPC's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI)."

According to a report by the state-run Xinhua news agency, the CCDI also discovered Liu, who the statement labeled "morally corrupted," had taken a huge amount of bribes and bore the major responsibility for severe corruption in the railways system.

Liu's behavior seriously violated the CPC's discipline, and the decision to expel him from the Party was made in accordance with the CPC's regulations and approved by the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee.

First Published: Apr 10, 2013 19:58 IST