Top Chinese railway official sentenced to death for graft

Beijing: A former top Chinese railway official was today sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve for taking nearly USD 8 million in bribes.

Zhang Shuguang, former head of the Railways Ministry’s transportation bureau and deputy chief engineer, was sentenced by the Beijing No 2 Intermediate People’s Court.

The court also deprived Zhang of political rights for life and confiscated all his property.

Zhang is the second high-ranking railway official convicted of bribery in China after former railway minister Liu Zhijun was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve for bribery and abuse of power in July, as part of an anti-graft campaign launched under President Xi Jinping.

Suspended death sentences are usually commuted to life imprisonment in China after two years.

Zhang’s deputy Su Shunhu was also given life imprisonment, deprived of political rights for life and has all property confiscated, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The court said Zhang took bribes worth more than 47 million yuan (USD 7.68 million) from 14 companies between 2000 and 2011, when he served in a variety of positions in the ministry.

He helped companies with contracts relating to the sale of trains or parts, technical supply and the bidding of projects, the court said.

On Su’s part, the court found he took bribes worth more than 24 million yuan (USD 3.92 million) from three companies between 2003 to 2011.

The court said its judgements took into consideration that both defendants voluntarily made a confession on undiscovered bribery and showed sincere regrets over their wrongdoings.

Chinese railway enjoyed enormous amounts of funding in the last decade as it embarked on massive modernisation including building the high-speed railway network.

China’s ruling Communist Party are eager to rein in the rampant corruption, which senior leaders say threatens the party’s rule.

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