Thu, Apr 15, 2010 - Page 5 News List

China sentences police boss to death

LOCAL MAFIAThe former head of Chongqing’s judiciary was found guilty of taking more than US$2 million in bribes, conniving with criminal groups, rape and corruption

AFP , BEIJING

A Chinese court yesterday sentenced to death a former top police and judicial official who was accused of sheltering criminal gangs who ran rampant for years in the southwestern city of Chongqing.

The verdict against Wen Qiang (文強), the former head of Chongqing’s judiciary and an ex-deputy police chief, brought to a climax a series of trials that lifted the lid on the seamy underworld in the mega-city of more than 30 million.

Wen, 54, was found guilty of taking more than US$2 million in bribes, protecting and conniving with organized crime groups, rape and corruption, the government news Web site cqnews.net said.

A staff member at the Chongqing court where he was tried confirmed the death sentence.

Wen was the highest-ranking public figure ensnared in a massive crackdown launched last year that has so far resulted in more than 3,300 detentions and hundreds of prosecutions. Nearly 100 officials have been tried.

At least seven people had already been reported executed or sentenced to death in the trials, which shocked the public by exposing the impunity enjoyed by Chongqing mafia bosses and the officials who protected them.

The Chongqing trials have captivated the public, due in no small part to the salacious details revealed in court. Wen allegedly raped a number of women, including B-list film and music starlets, and had affairs with subordinates.

Wen — who was deputy police chief for 16 years — owned numerous apartments and villas, had a fleet of foreign luxury cars and maintained a treasure trove of antiques and artworks worth hundreds of millions of yuan, media reports said.

At his February trial, Wen admitted he took money from others on numerous occasions but that no corruption was involved and much of it was for “birthday and New Year” greetings, state media reported.

Among the charges he was found guilty of was possession of large amounts of property from unknown sources, cqnews.net said.

Wen was tried with his wife, Zhou Xiaoya (周曉亞), and three former Chongqing police associates — Huang Daiqiang (黃代強), Zhao Liming (趙利明) and Chen Tao (陳濤). Zhou was sentenced to eight years in prison while the others received sentences ranging from six months to 20 years.

In November, Wen’s sister-in-law Xie Caiping (謝才萍) was sentenced to 18 years in prison on charges of running illegal gambling dens and drug dealing.

Dubbed the “Godmother” by Chinese media, Xie reportedly drove a Mercedes-Benz, owned several luxury villas and kept a stable of 16 young men to provide her with sexual services.

The crackdown is widely seen as a bid by Bo Xilai (薄熙來) — who was appointed party secretary in Chongqing in 2007 and is considered one of the party’s most popular and charismatic figures — to move up in the national hierarchy.

Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) has warned that graft threatens to undermine the party’s legitimacy and in recent months has repeatedly called for a continued crackdown on corruption.

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