Zhang Gaoli

New graft scandal in Tianjin centred on court president

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 June, 2007, 12:00am


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A second corruption scandal has hit the northern port city Tianjin this month, with the city's Higher Court president reportedly under investigation by central government graft busters.

Zhang Baifeng, 64, is being investigated by officials from the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) - the Communist Party's top anti-corruption body - for alleged bribery and mistress-related scandals, the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights & Democracy said yesterday.

But he is yet to be placed under shuanggui - a party disciplinary measure which usually puts suspect party members under house arrest and makes them confess their wrongdoings.

Mr Zhang became Higher Court president in 1993 after serving on the city government's political and law committee since 1987.

Last Monday the chairman of Tianjin's Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference - the advisory body to the city's people's congress - killed himself after returning from a talk with CCDI officials.

Song Pingshun , 61, who held a rank equivalent to a cabinet minister, was one of the highest-ranking officials to have committed suicide in the past three decades.

He once served as the city's vice-mayor, police chief and secretary of the Communist Party's Tianjin Political and Law Committee, which oversees police, prosecutors and judges.

In another political twist in the development of the city, which has been dogged by high-level corruption scandals for the past year, Pi Qiansheng , the man in charge of the Binhai New Area - Tianjin's answer to Shanghai's Pudong - was replaced on Sunday by his former deputy because of alleged property-related corruption scandals.

Mr Pi, like Song, had spent almost his entire career in Tianjin. He was said to have close ties with Li Baojin , the city's former chief prosecutor who was dismissed in August for a 'severe breach of discipline'.

Song was also closely involved with Wu Changshun , the former head of Tianjin's police force, who was detained last June for alleged bribery connected to property deals, the rights group's statement said.

'Top officials in Tianjin's judicial system, which comprises the people's court, procuratorate and public security, have all been involved in corruption scandals,' it said.

After a string of corruption cases in the past year exposed the embarrassing failure of the current system, the central government sent a raft of new officials to the northern boom city to clean up the political mess.

In December Zang Xianfu, a senior official with few known links to Tianjin, was parachuted in as the city's new anti-graft chief.

Zhang Gaoli , the former party secretary of Shandong , was moved to Tianjin in March as the city's new party chief.

Tianjin, with a population of more than 10 million, is one of the four municipalities under the direct control of the central government.