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China's former railways minister given suspended death penalty for bribery, power abuse


17:01, July 08, 2013

BEIJING, July 8 (Xinhua) -- China's former railways minister Liu Zhijun was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve here on Monday for bribery and abuse of power.

As well as the suspended death sentence, the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People's Court deprived the 60-year-old of his political rights for life and confiscated all his personal property for taking bribes. Liu was also sentenced to 10 years in jail for abuse of power, according to the court verdict.

The court found that from 1986 to 2011, Liu took advantage of his positions as an official of local railway bureaus as well as the former Ministry of Railways, and helped 11 people, including Shao Liping and Ding Yuxin, win promotions, project deals and cargo transportation contracts. He accepted 64.6 million yuan (10.53 million U.S. dollars) in bribes from them during this period.

While he was railways minister, Liu helped Ding and her relatives to win both cargo transportation and railway construction contracts. He also helped them in the acquisition of shares in a bullet train wheel set company and with enterprise financing by breaking regulations and applying favoritism. This allowed Ding and her family to reap huge profits.

The court held that Liu's crime of bribery involved a huge amount of money with especially serious circumstances. His crime of abuse of power had caused colossal losses in public assets, violating the rights and interests of the state and the people.

The court confirmed that Liu confessed to his crimes, and provided further clues of his bribery that were unknown to investigation organs. Most of Liu's bribed money and the majority of the economic losses caused by his abuse of power have been recovered.

Liu's crime of bribery, which violated the integrity of a state official's duty behavior and undermined the state functionary's reputation, should be given the death penalty. However, with his admission of guilt and repentance, Liu was given the death penalty with a reprieve, the court said.

The court said that although most of economic losses have been recovered, leniency will not be given regarding Liu's crime of power abuse, as it is especially serious in terms of both circumstances and consequences.

Bai Shanyun, the trial judge and vice president of Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People's Court, said the Second Branch of Beijing Municipal People's Procuratorate filed the charges against Liu with the court on April 10, 2013. The court later set up a collegial panel and opened the trial in public on June 9.

According to Article 386 and Clause one of Article 383 of the Criminal Law, such violators should be subjected to capital punishment, Bai said.

However, as there were circumstances that may warrant a lighter punishment, the court decided to hand down a sentence of a death penalty with a two-year reprieve.

Firstly, Liu confessed his crime, including some acts of bribe-taking that were unknown to investigators. Prosecutors and Liu's defense counsel had stated in the trial that according to relevant laws, such facts may warrant leniency.

The court also found that the eighth amendment to the Criminal Law and a judicial interpretation issued by the Supreme People's Court (SPC) allowed for a lighter punishment for such circumstances, Bai said.

Secondly, Bai said Liu and his family members had cooperated with investigators in confiscating the illegal gains.

According to an interpretation jointly issued by the SPC and the Supreme People's Procuratorate, such criminals may be given a lighter penalty, Bai said.

The document also stipulated that in bribe-taking-related cases where criminals and their families or friends have voluntarily surrendered the illegal gains or made cooperative efforts with law enforcers to confiscate such gains, the court should make a difference in its sentencing from those cases where there is no such behavior, the judge said.

Such behavior also demonstrated Liu's repentance that may call for a mitigated sentence, Bai said.

Furthermore, Liu also appeared to be cooperative when confessing and showed his penitence during the investigation, prosecution and trial procedures, Bai said.

Taking all the facts of the whole case and Liu's relevant behavior into consideration, the court holds that an immediate execution is not necessary, the judge said.

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