China’s former justice minister faces life in prison amid purge of security officials | China

Former Chinese Justice Minister Fu Zhenghua, who headed several high-profile corruption investigations, has been sentenced to life in prison for taking bribes, state media say, as a purge of officials was intensified ahead of a key communist congress. side.

Fu, 67, was given a suspended death sentence that will be commuted to life imprisonment after two years, with no chance of parole, according to state media on Thursday.

Fu was deputy head of the Ministry of Public Security before becoming Minister of Justice in 2018, leading many high-profile investigations and crackdowns, including one about a decade ago into Zhou Yongkang, a former security czar and the most powerful official in modern China. to be convicted of bribery.

In July, Fu admitted taking bribes of more than 117 million yuan ($16.50 million).

Ahead of Fu’s trial in the northeastern city of Changchun, China’s anti-transplant watchdog determined earlier this year that Fu was also part of a “political gang” of Sun Lijun — one of the security apparatus’s most prominent officials to be targeted since his conviction. from Zhou in 2015.

Sun, who was deputy secretary of public security when investigations began against him in 2020, admitted on state television in January that he colluded with some top law enforcement officials for the purpose of personal enrichment.

Sun was also accused of not embracing President Xi Jinping’s authority. On Thursday, state media reports said he was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve for taking bribes, stock market manipulation and illegal possession of weapons.

Sun’s influence was so pervasive within the party that it was described by authorities as “toxic” and Sun himself was like a “cancer” that needed to be eliminated, the watchdog said.

Three former police chiefs from Shanghai, Chongqing and Shanxi provinces were sentenced on Wednesday to years in prison – including life – for corruption.

Like Fu, they were also accused of being part of Sun’s clique and of being disloyal to Xi.

The purges came three weeks before a five-year congress of the ruling Communist Party, where Xi is widely expected to secure a groundbreaking third term as leader of China.

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