12 Jun 2015

China jails top leader for corruption

6:21 am on 12 June 2015

China's ex-security chief Zhou Yongkang has been jailed for life - the most senior politician to face corruption charges under Communist rule.

A screen grab taken from CCTV footage shows former Chinese security chief Zhou Yongkang standing on trial at the Intermediate People's Court in Tianjin.

A screen grab taken from CCTV footage shows former Chinese security chief Zhou Yongkang standing on trial at the Intermediate People's Court in Tianjin. Photo: AFP

He was found guilty of bribery, abuse of power and "intentionally disclosing national secrets", China's official Xinhua news agency reports.

Until his retirement in 2012, Zhou was one of China's most powerful men.

He was put under investigation one year later as part of President Xi Jinping's major anti-corruption campaign.

State TV showed a clip of Zhou, 72, pleading guilty at a closed-door trial in the northern city of Tianjin. When responding to the judge, he said he would not launch an appeal.

"I've realised the harm I've caused to the party and the people. I plead guilty and I regret my crimes," he said.

The news agency said Zhou was tried behind closed doors on 22 May because the case involved state secrets. There was no public announcement until the conviction was reported on Thursday.

In a breakdown of the ruling, Xinhua reports that Zhou received a life sentence for accepting bribes worth 130m yuan ($21.3m; £13.8m), seven years for abuse of power and four years for "deliberately releasing state secrets".

All political rights have been stripped and his property confiscated, it added.

Reaction on Chinese social media platforms has been welcoming of the conviction, with one user commenting: "Haha! Put the old tiger in the cage!"

The jibe is a reference to President Xi Jinping's promise to crack down on both "tigers and flies" - meaning officials at all levels - in his fight against corruption.

Zhou was charged in April, nine months after a formal investigation was announced. He has since been expelled from the Communist Party.

-BBC