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Official Gets Death Penalty

The Intermediate People's Court in Jinan, capital city of east China's Shandong Province, Monday sentenced a former provincial vice-governor to death for accepting bribes and holding large amounts of assets he could not account for.

Wang Huaizhong, a former vice-governor of east China's Anhui Province, is the latest in a string of officials convicted in China as part of an intensified campaign against corruption.

"In the face of irrefutable evidence, he indulged in sophistry in every possible way and refused to admit guilt," Xinhua News Agency quoted the court as saying.

"His attitude was disgusting and he was severely punished in accordance with the law."

The court convicted Wang of accepting bribes totaling 5.17 million yuan (US$623,000) between September 1994 and March 2001.

Wang was unable to account for another 4.8 million yuan (US$578,000) in assets seized by the authorities.

He was found to have used most of his money to try to bribe investigators into dropping an investigation.

Wang, who was taken into custody in April 2001 and expelled from the Communist Party in September this year, has 10 days to appeal.

Wang's sentence coincided with the announcement of Hebei Province's handling of Lu Xianning, former deputy secretary-general of the standing committee of the provincial People's Congress.

Lu was expelled from the Party and his case transferred to a judicial department for further investigation, the provincial disciplinary committee said.

The two cases mark the epilogue of a year that witnessed a new wave of actions to bring down corrupt officials from provincial governments.

A total of 12 provincial or ministry-level officials were nabbed or punished this year, including former Party secretaries of Hebei and Guizhou provinces, Cheng Weigao and Liu Fangren, former Yunnan Governor Li Jiating, as well as the former Minister of Land and Natural Resources Tian Fengshan.

The blacklist also includes well-known names such as Wang Xuebing, former president of China Construction Bank, and Tian Fengqi, president of the Liaoning Provincial Higher People's Court.

According to the Supreme People's Procuratorate, procurators throughout the country investigated more than 38,000 cases involving 41,797 people alleged of embezzlement, bribery, dereliction of duty and other crimes, including more than 2,600 government officials at county level or above.

"These measures show the determination of the new generation leadership to fight corruption and change the bureaucratic styles," Xinhua quoted an official with the central disciplinary authority as saying.

Experts said authorities have been increasing the transparency of the anti-graft campaign by publicizing details of the cases to the media.

(China Daily December 30, 2003)

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