October 1, 2022

This picture taken on May 6, 2014 shows China's then-Vice Minister of Public Security Fu Zhenghu (C) speaking at a train station in Beijing
This picture taken on May 6, 2014 shows China’s then-Vice Minister of Public Security Fu Zhenghu (C) speaking at a train station in Beijing

China’s former justice minister faces life in prison after a court on Thursday handed him a suspended death sentence for taking bribes and “breaking the law.”

Fu Zhenghu’s death sentence will be commuted to life imprisonment after a two-year delay, the Changchun City Intermediate People’s Court said in a statement.

The high-profile sentence — part of a sweeping anti-corruption campaign — comes just three weeks before a key political meeting where President Xi Jinping is expected to secure an unprecedented third term.

The court said former politician Fu abused his power while holding a series of high-ranking positions from 2005 to 2021.

“(He) is deprived of political rights for life and all personal property should be confiscated,” it added.

Fu, 67, received bribes worth more than 117 million yuan ($16.5 million), the court said.

Between 2014 and 2015, when Fu was head of the Beijing Public Security Bureau, the court said he hid evidence of suspected crimes committed by his brother Fu Weihua and failed to handle the case in accordance with the law.

During his tenure as Beijing’s top police officer, Fu is believed to have led a corruption investigation into Zhou Yongkang, a former security chief who was jailed in 2015 in one of the most high-profile cases of the anti-corruption campaign.

Fu was a member of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission and Minister of Justice before he went into semi-retirement in May 2020.

He was serving as deputy director of the social and legal affairs committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) standing committee — a largely ceremonial advisory body — when anti-corruption authorities launched an investigation into his affairs last October.

More than a million officials have been punished as part of the anti-corruption campaign, which critics say has also served as a tool to eliminate Xi’s political enemies since he came to power in 2013.

The Chinese leader has stepped up the pace of the anti-corruption campaign ahead of the party congress in mid-October.

Three former police chiefs, all accused of corruption, were given harsh sentences for corruption on Wednesday.

Gong Daoan, former police chief of Shanghai; Deng Huilin, former police chief of Chongqing; and Liu Xinyun, the former police chief of coal-rich Shanxi province, were convicted in separate courts in Hebei province.

Gong, a former deputy mayor and director of the Shanghai Public Security Bureau, was sentenced to life in prison for accepting bribes worth 73.43 million yuan ($10.4 million), state broadcaster CCTV reported.

Deng, the former director of the Chongqing Public Security Bureau, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for taking 42.67 million yuan ($6 million) in bribes, CCTV reported.

Liu, a former chief police officer in Shanxi, was jailed for 14 years for taking 13.33 million ($1.9 million) in bribes, CCTV reported.

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