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Three officials sentenced to death, life in prison
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Three former officials from China's Hunan Province were sentenced to death or life in prison Thursday for taking bribes.

Li Dalun, 58, former secretary of Communist Party of China (CPC) Chenzhou Municipal Committee, was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve for taking money in exchange for giving out promotions, contracts, mining permits and other gains between February 1999 to May 2006, the Changsha Municipal Intermediate People's Court said.

The bribes and other illegal gifts accepted by Li and his wife were valued at more than 14 million yuan (US$2.1 million).

Li also had another 18 million yuan that he had failed to account for.

Judges said Li's crimes were very serious and deserved death penalty, however, he voluntarily confessed to taking bribes judiciary authorities did not know about. In addition, Li returned all his illegal earnings. Therefore, judges gave Li a two-year reprieve.

In China, a reprieve means that if Li shows good behavior over the next two years, the death sentence will be turned into life in prison.

Li's wife, Chen Lihua, a retired Chenzhou labor and social security bureau official, was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Thursday.

In another case, Zeng Jinchun, 61, former secretary of the CPC Chenzhou Municipal Commission for Discipline Inspection, was sentenced to death for taking 31.52 million yuan in bribes between 1997 to September 2006, the Changsha Municipal Intermediate People's Court said.

He took the illegal money in exchange for meting out promotions, contracts, mining permits.

In addition, Zeng, who also served as vice secretary of the CPC Chenzhou Municipal Committee, had another 9.53 million yuan that he could not account for.

His wife, son and daughter are now under investigation.

Also Thursday, Zhou Zhengkun was sentenced to life in prison for taking 12.8 million yuan in bribes while serving as Chenzhou mayor and holding other key CPC posts in the city between September 1994 to December 2003, according to the Yiyang Municipal Intermediate People's Court.

Zhou, 55, was charged with taking advantage of his posts to seek illegal gains.

(Xinhua News Agency November 21, 2008)

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