A former vice-mayor of Jining city in Shandong was sentenced to life imprisonment yesterday for accepting 4.5 million yuan in bribes. Delivering the verdict yesterday, a Weifang city court judge also permanently stripped Li Xin of his political rights and confiscated all his personal property. The judge said Li had seriously tainted the reputation of civil servants and had taken advantage of his posts for his own benefit. 'The bribes were extraordinarily large,' the judge said. The judge said Li had confessed and that all the bribes - in goods and in money - had been returned and handed over to the state treasury. The case of Li, 51, became a national sensation when three pictures of him kneeling and begging Li Yuchun , a Shandong businesswoman, not to expose him were published on the internet. Li Xin was arrested by the Shandong provincial people's procuratorate last July and transferred to the Weifang city people's procuratorate for prosecution. Li pleaded guilty to most of the offences. From 1991 to April last year, he received 3.37 million yuan and US$89,000 from 40 work units or individuals. He also received watches and necklaces, with the value of all the bribes totalling 4.507 million yuan. In May, Li Yuchun was given a five-year jail term for harbouring her younger brother when he was wanted for murder. Her brother, Li Dengfeng , was given a suspended death sentence last July. Li Yuchun met Li Xin in Shanghai in early 2002. They set up a business, the Nanfang Weekly reported, but she discovered that he was engaged in illicit business deals and reported him to the authorities.