Former politburo member of Chinese Communist party accused of plotting coup against Xi gets life term in graft case

Sun Zhengcai, a former Politburo member and party chief of Chongqing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), was once tipped for a top leadership post.

Published: 08th May 2018 01:59 PM  |   Last Updated: 08th May 2018 01:59 PM   |  A+A-

Sun Zhengcai. | Associated Press

By PTI

BEIJING: A former top Chinese Communist Party official, who was accused of plotting a coup against President Xi Jinping last year, was today sentenced to life imprisonment for taking USD 26.7 million in bribes.

Sun Zhengcai, a former Politburo member and party chief of Chongqing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), was once tipped for a top leadership post.

He was abruptly removed from office ahead of the party Congress in October last year.

The First Intermediate People's Court of Tianjin Municipality today sentenced him to life in prison for taking bribes of over 170 million yuan (USD 26.7 million), state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Announcing the verdict, the court also deprived him of his political rights for life and all his personal property was confiscated.

Sun, 54, is the latest senior cadre to fall in President Xi Jinping's sweeping anti-corruption campaign.

During the CPC Congress in October, Liu Shiyu, chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission had alleged that Sun was part of coup attempt against Xi.

The Congress had confirmed the second five-year tenure for Xi, regarded as the most powerful leader of China heading the party, the Presidency and the military.

China's parliament also removed the two-term limit for the president paving the way for Xi to continue in power for life.

Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post quoted Liu as saying on October 20 that Xi foiled the coup plot by former political heavy weights who were at the receiving end of his high-profile anti-graft campaign.

Sun had been accused of taking advantage of his position to seek profits for others and illegally accepting money and property during several positions held by him including as Minister for Agriculture, according to previous court statements.

A high profile anti-corruption campaign launched by Xi which began five years ago, has led to the downfall of a number of high-level officials.

Xi's critics allege that he has used the campaign against his political rivals.

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.

Over a million officials of various ranks have been punished in Xi's anti-graft campaign since he came to power in 2013.

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