China: Former political star Sun Zhengcai sentenced to life

08/05 06:28Chinese Court Sentences Ex-Top Communist Official to Life Term for Graft - Media

Sun was replaced in Chongqing by Chen Miner, a protégé of President Xi Jinping and a rising political star.

Sun Zhengcai, a member of the ruling Politburo until he was unexpectedly ousted past year, pleaded guilty to corruption in April.

He was accused of taking advantage of his position to seek profits for himself and others.

Sun Zhengcai, a former politburo member and party chief of the south-western mega city of Chongqing, was found guilty of taking more than 170 million yuan ($35.7 million) in bribes, the First Intermediate People's Court of Tianjin said on its website.

The large amount of illegally accepted money could have had Sun sentenced to death.

Since the last year's Congress, several officials at or above deputy ministerial level and senior military officials have been investigated or punished, including former Chinese military chief of staff Fang Fenghui and Lu Wei, former deputy head of the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee, as well as vice governors of Shaanxi, Shandong and Jiangxi provinces.

Sun said he admits his crimes and is sincerely repentant. In order to retrieve his "illegal gains", authorities are set to confiscate Sun's property and he will be deprived of his political rights for the rest of his life.

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Sun was a member of the Communist Party's key decision-making body, the Politburo, but was expelled from the party in September, before being handed over to prosecutors.

Sun was sacked as Chongqing's party boss in July and placed under investigation for corruption in the run-up to the party's national leadership reshuffle in October.

The Chinese president said in April, though, that he is opposed to life-long rule, arguing that the move to amend the constitution was definitely misinterpreted by foreign observers.

Previously big-name corrupt officials would have been retired or eased out of office, but Mr Xi has taken a more aggressive approach.

One of the most powerful men in all of China presently, Jinping rose to fame due to his anti-corruption stance.

However, critics have claimed Xi has used the crusade as a way to sideline political opponents and consolidate his power over the country.

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