China’s former Ministry of Public Security Zhou Yongkang has been jailed for life after being found guilty of bribery, abuse of power and “intentionally disclosing national secrets”, Xinhua news agency reports.
Zhou Yongkang – the most senior politician to face corruption charges under Communist rule.
Until his retirement in 2012, Zhou Yongkang was one of China’s most powerful men.
Zhou Yongkang was put under investigation one year later as part of President Xi Jinping’s major anti-corruption campaign.
State TV showed a clip of Zhou Yongkang, 72, pleading guilty at a closed-door trial in the northern city of Tianjin. When responding to the judge, he said he would not launch an appeal.
Zhou Yongkang said: “I’ve realized the harm I’ve caused to the party and the people. I plead guilty and I regret my crimes.”
He was tried behind closed doors on May 22 because the case involved state secrets, Xinhua agency reports. There was no public announcement until the conviction was reported on June 11.
In a breakdown of the ruling, Xinhua reports that Zhou Yongkang received a life sentence for accepting bribes worth 130 million yuan ($21.3 million), seven years for abuse of power and four years for “deliberately releasing state secrets”.
All political rights have been stripped and his property confiscated, the news agency added.
Zhou Yongkang was charged in April, nine months after a formal investigation was announced.
He has since been expelled from the Communist Party.
Zhou Yongkang was once head of the Ministry of Public Security, as well as a member of China’s top decision-making body, the Politburo Standing Committee.
It is the first time such a senior Chinese figure has been convicted of corruption since the Communist Party came to power in 1949.
President Xi Jinping vowed to end endemic corruption when he came to power in 2012.
Since then, a number of Zhou Yongkang’s former associates from his time working in the oil industry and as Communist Party chief in Sichuan province have been investigated or prosecuted as part of Xi Jinping’s corruption crackdown.
The Xinhua report did not refer to Bo Xilai, a former protégé of Zhou Yongkang’s and former Chongqing Communist Party chief, who is currently in prison on charges linked to his wife’s murder of a British businessman.
Zhou Yongkang, who oversaw China’s security apparatus and law enforcement institutions, has been charged with bribery, abuse of power and the intentional disclosure of state secrets, state media report.
The former security chief was, until his retirement in 2012, one of China’s most powerful men.
Zhou Yongkang headed the Ministry of Public Security and was a member of China’s top decision-making body.
Once Xi Jinping took over as president in 2013, however, Zhou Yongkang was put under investigation.
A formal probe was announced in July 2014, after months of rumors, and he has since been expelled from the Communist Party.
Zhou Yongkang’s case had been sent to a court in Tianjin, a northern port city, Xinhua news agency reported.
The head of China’s top court said last month he would have an “open trial”, though no date has been announced.
In a brief statement, China’s top prosecution body said that the allegations against Zhou Yongkang were “extraordinarily severe”.
“The defendant Zhou Yongkang… took advantage of his posts to seek gains for others and illegally took huge property and assets from others, abused his power, causing huge losses to public property and the interests of the state and the people,” the statement said.
Zhou Yongkang, who is in his 70s, is the most senior official to be targeted in decades.
He was previously one of nine members of China’s highest organ, the Politburo Standing Committee. It has since shrunk to seven members.
Zhou Yongkang has not been seen in public since late 2013, when rumors of a probe first emerged.
A number of his former associates from his time both in the oil industry and as Communist Party chief in Sichuan province are already being investigated or prosecuted as part of Xi Jinping’s corruption crackdown.
Zhou Yongkang’s former protégé, former Chongqing Communist Party chief and high-flyer Bo Xilai, is currently in prison on charges linked to his wife’s murder of a British businessman.
Analysts say the investigation into Zhou Yongkang allows Xi Jinping – who took office as president in March 2013 – to consolidate his power base, remove people opposed to his reforms and improve the image of the Communist Party.
Chinese mining tycoon Liu Han has been executed after being sentenced to death in May 2014 for “leading mafia-style crime and murder”, state media say.
Liu Han’s younger brother, Liu Wei and three other associates were also executed, Xinhua said, after China’s top court signed off on the move.
The former chairman of Hanlong Group is believed to have had links to former security tsar Zhou Yongkang, who is currently being investigated.
The Hanlong Group is a major private conglomerate based in Sichuan province, involved in multiple industries including mining, telecommunications and chemicals.
As head of the company, Liu Han was both rich and very influential.
Xinhua said the company, which had been “harbored and indulged by government officials, had illegally monopolized the gaming business in Guanghan City in Sichuan province, tyrannized local people and seriously harmed the local economic and social order”.
In recent months, several top officials from Sichuan province have come under scrutiny.
Sichuan was a power base of Zhou Yongkang, China’s former domestic security chief who is now the subject of a corruption probe.
Zhou Yongkang was the party secretary in Sichuan before becoming head of China’s public security ministry in 2003.
He was arrested in December 2014, the latest and by far the most senior figure to be handed over to prosecutors as part of President Xi Jinping’s crackdown on corruption.
Official reports do not specifically link Liu Han’s case with Zhou Yongkang.
Liu Han was an associate of Zhou Bin, Zhou Yongkang’s son, the South China Morning Post reported.
China’s ex-security chief Zhou Yongkang has been arrested and expelled from the Communist Party, state media reported.
Zhou Yongkang is the most senior Chinese official to be investigated for corruption.
The Supreme People’s Procuratorate, China’s top prosecuting body, said it had opened a formal probe against him.
Before he retired two years ago, Zhou Yongkang was the head of China’s vast internal security apparatus.
Many of his former associates and relatives also face corruption probes.
Since coming to power, Chinese President Xi Jinping has launched a high-profile campaign to weed out corruption among party and government officials.
Zhou Yongkang was accused of several crimes, including “serious violations of party discipline”, “accepting large sums of bribes”, “disclosing party and state secrets” and “committing adultery with several women” as part of corrupt transactions, Xinhua news agency reported.
His arrest was announced in a statement by the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, released late on Friday night.