China ex-railway boss goes on trial for corruption

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 June, 2013, 4:51pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 June, 2013, 4:54pm

A former Chinese railways minister goes on trial for corruption on Sunday in one of the country’s biggest graft cases in years, charged with taking massive bribes and steering the awarding of highly lucrative projects.

The Beijing Second Intermediate People’s Court told the official Xinhua News Agency that it will hear the case against 60-year-old Liu Zhijun, who spearheaded China’s showcase bullet train network when he oversaw the powerful ministry.

Sunday is a work day in China because of rescheduling to accommodate an upcoming national holiday.

Liu’s lawyer, Qian Lieyang, confirmed the trial date and said he plans to argue for the charges to be reduced to misdemeanours during the trial.

Prosecutors have said Liu - as a government functionary - sought benefits for others by taking advantage of his position and accepting financial incentives from others.

They say Liu engaged in malpractices for personal gain and abuse of power, leading to huge losses of public property.

Liu was ousted in February 2011 for unspecified discipline violations. Months later, a high-speed train crash killed 40 people near the eastern Chinese city of Wenzhou.

Earlier this year, Beijing dismantled the Ministry of Railways and separated its regulatory and commercial arms in a bid to reduce bureaucracy and boost efficiency.