Beijing 'ready to begin' trying associates of Zhou Yongkang
Authorities reportedly ready to begin trying associates of ex-Politburo Standing Committee member - the first act in a huge graft case
Mainland authorities are ready to put a group of officials and businesspeople connected with former state leader Zhou Yongkang on trial, say sources familiar with the situation.
The proceedings could start as early as next month and would be carried out one by one, they said. These will pave the way for a possible public hearing for Zhou, who could become the highest-ranking party official to face trial for economic crimes.
Zhou will first be ousted from the Communist Party. This will probably take place after a leadership meeting in October. His case would then be transferred to judicial authorities to prepare for a public hearing, one of the sources said.
That person added that Zhou's trial could be handled in a format similar to that of Bo Xilai, a political ally of Zhou and the former party chief of Chongqing.
Bo, who was jailed for life last year, was given a public trial that attracted media attention around the world.
While only a few mainland journalists were allowed to attend, the trial was publicised through regular but heavily censored updates on an official court blog.
The corruption investigation into Zhou, a former Politburo Standing Committee member, was only announced on July 29. But many officials and businesspeople linked to him were detained and questioned as early as late 2012 - when graft investigators targeted former Sichuan deputy party chief Li Chuncheng.
Former Sichuan vice-governor Guo Yongxiang, former chief regulator of state-owned enterprises Jiang Jiemin, former deputy public security minister Li Dongsheng, and tycoons connected to Zhou could face trial soon, the sources said.
Most of these cases were given to judicial officials in Xianning and Yichang in Hubei province, sources said, meaning the trials were likely to be held in these two cities. This would be in line with the practice of trying senior officials in cities outside their former sphere of influence.
Separately, former deputy logistics chief of the People's Liberation Army Gu Junshan will also stand trial soon on corruption charges, according to a senior military official.
Cases involving the military are customarily handled by the military courts behind closed doors. But the leadership was considering making Gu's case public because of the publicity it generated, the official said.
Gu was charged in March with embezzlement, bribery, and misuse of state funds. Investigators said Gu had bribed Xu Caihou, a former vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission. Xu is also under investigation, as reported earlier.
An internal briefing said Xu received more than 35 million yuan (HK$44 million) from Gu directly or through family members. Some of the bribes allegedly took the form of real estate.
In January, media group Caixin reported that Gu allegedly pocketed 6 per cent of a 2 billion yuan sale of military land.