A former Chinese Supreme Court judge was sentenced to life in prison yesterday following his conviction for embezzlement and receiving more than half a million dollars in bribes.
Huang Songyou (黃松有) is the latest top official snared in a stepped-up campaign against corruption, which Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) has described as one of the greatest threats to the legitimacy of Chinese Communist Party rule.
Huang is the first judicial official of his stature to be tried and convicted on such charges.
Formally known as the Supreme People’s Court, the body is the highest judicial panel in the country with wide-ranging powers including overseeing lower courts and reviewing death sentences. The court has 13 members, with its grand justice also sitting on the party’s decision-making Central Committee.
Huang’s entire property also was confiscated as part of the ruling, a brief report by the official China News Service said.
Huang, 52, was accused of taking 3.9 million yuan (US$574,000) in bribes from a law firm in return for favorable rulings on cases between 2005 and 2008.
He was also charged with embezzling 1.2 million yuan in government funds while serving as president of a city level court in Guangdong Province in 1997.
Huang was fired and kicked out of the party in August and went on trial last Thursday at the Langfang Municipal Intermediate Court in Hebei Province just outside Beijing. Calls to the court rang unanswered yesterday.
Xinhua news agency said Huang had confessed to the charges during the investigation stage and most of the bribes and embezzled funds had been recovered.
“But as a chief justice, Huang knowingly violated the law by trading power for money and taking a hefty sum of bribes, which has produced a bad impact on the society, and should be punished severely,” Xinhua said, citing the verdict.
It said it wasn’t known whether Huang would appeal.
China hopes such high-profile takedowns of leading party members will scare the rank and file straight.
The People’s Daily said in a commentary on its Web site that the ruling showed no one was exempt from the government’s anti-corruption drive.
“The Langfang Intermediate People’s Court’s ruling on this issue states resoundingly that courts will not tolerate corruption in the administration of justice, no matter who, or at what level the cadres are,” it said.
Hu last week called the fight against corruption a “pressing task”, urging increased efforts to investigate embezzlement and corruption cases.
Also last week, former top nuclear power official Kang Rixin (康日新), who was sacked in August, was stripped of his party membership and referred by the party to stand trial for abuse of power and corruption, Xinhua reported.
An internal party investigation had found that Kang, former general manager of the China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC), had “abused his authority, enabled profits for others, and taken huge bribes.”
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