The former head of Beijing's affluent hi-tech district was given a suspended death penalty yesterday for taking bribes worth more than 16 million yuan (HK$17.77 million), according to local media.
The Beijing No 2 Intermediate People's Court issued the death sentence, suspended for two years, to Zhou Liangluo, 49, former head of Haidian district, the capital's education and hi-tech hub, the Beijing Evening News reported.
The court also sentenced Zhou's wife, Lu Xiaodan, to life imprisonment for her involvement in about 8 million yuan worth of the bribes Zhou took, the paper said.
A suspended death sentence on the mainland is normally commuted to life imprisonment on condition of good behaviour.
Most of the bribes offered to Zhou during his tenure as the district chief, between November 2002 and April last year, came from property developers in exchange for land grabs and project approvals.
In 2005, Zhou 'used his official position to provide assistance' to Beijing Yongtai Real Estate Company, which successfully beat other tenders and landed the lucrative project to construct a commercial building for the district government and received a villa worth 2 million yuan, the paper said.
In 2006, Zhou 'offered help' to another property company, Ruijing Qingyuan, and in return his wife's name showed up on the company's payroll. Lu received about 290,000 yuan in salaries, bonuses and dividends even though she did not work for the company for a single day, it said. Also in 2006, Zhou pocketed bribes worth about 2 million yuan from the deputy manager of Yicheng Property Company, which won a hotly contested construction project.
Zhou's trial opened on March 21. The couple had pleaded guilty to most of the crimes and had not decided whether to appeal the sentences.
Meanwhile, disgraced former Shanghai party secretary Chen Liangyu reportedly was defiant in his one-day corruption trial on Tuesday, refusing to admit guilt to three charges, state media said.
Chen, on trial for his role in embezzling from Shanghai's pension fund, was tried in Tianjin . No sentence was announced.
Reports said Chen was tried for taking bribes, abuse of power and dereliction of duty. He was quoted as saying that he took partial responsibility, but he did not plead guilty.
'What Chen said about responsibility was very vague and tactful,' one lawyer said. 'Responsibility might mean he had made mistakes, which is not equal to a guilty plea.'
Additional reporting by Bill Savadove in Shanghai
Partners in crime
Zhou Liangluo and his wife took more than 16 million yuan in bribes
The approximate amount Lu Xiaodan 'earned' for not working for property firm Ruijing Qingyuan was, in yuan: 290,000