The deputy chief of a major publishing company was sentenced to death and had all his assets confiscated for taking US$400,000 (HK$3 million) in bribes from a foreign company. The Beijing No 1 Intermediate Court handed down the sentence on Ju Jiantai, 56, former deputy director of the Contemporary World Publishing Company and a member of the Communist Party for 37 years. From 1993 to 1995, he was given the job of negotiating the sale of the Beijing Xinwanshou Hotel to a foreign company, which paid him six bribes amounting to US$400,000 to enable them to buy it for a cheap price. The court determined that Ju's was a serious crime, in abusing his position as a state official and accepting such a large amount of money in bribes. The Beijing Youth Daily said the Thursday court hearing lasted just 10 minutes. Calm at the beginning, Ju started to sweat profusely when he heard the verdict, soaking the blue T-shirt he was wearing. He said afterwards: 'I wanted to continue working at my age and make a contribution but now this hope is gone. Before, I had little opportunity to be with my family and planned to spend more time with them after my retirement. Now, I will never have this opportunity.' 'Before, my family was poor but happy. In future, their life will be very difficult and this is all because of me. I want to say sorry because I let them down.' He said that while his was a serious crime the death sentence was too severe and that he planned to appeal. An official of his company, a major state publishing firm, declined to comment.