Guangzhou's Intermediate People's Court has sentenced a Sars hero to life in prison for accepting 11.18 million yuan in bribes from vaccine suppliers, saying he escaped the death penalty by surrendering to authorities. Luo Yaoxing , former director of the Guangdong Centre for Disease Control and Prevention's Immunology Department, was also stripped of his political rights and had personal assets amounting to 1.5 million yuan confiscated, Xinhua reported. The court said Luo, who had the power to authorise all vaccine purchases in the province and supervise vaccine testing, made use of his position to promote, approve funds and buy vaccines between July 2001 and April this year. Luo and colleague Cai Hangang , who faces a separate trial, received a total of 11.62 million yuan from the Shanghai Institute of Biological Products, the Changchun Institute of Biological Products, the Lanzhou Institute of Biological Products and Beijing Tiantan Biological Products. Luo's share of the collective bribes was 7.07 million yuan, and he also received a further 4.11 million yuan individually. The court said the amount received by Luo was enough to qualify as an especially severe case of corruption and should have been punished with the death penalty. 'Because he surrendered and returned the entire amount, his sentence has been reduced to life imprisonment,' the report said. Luo had rented an apartment to keep the money, which was stored in briefcases, local media reported. Insiders say bribes are commonplace in the health industry, with drug companies engaging in multi-layered bribery in hospitals to push sales of their products.