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Death term handed to top officer commuted

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 December, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 December, 2006, 12:00am

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A Beijing military court has commuted a death sentence handed to a corrupt former deputy navy commander to life imprisonment, according to Hong Kong-based Ta Kung Pao.


Wang Shouye , 62, received a suspended death sentence in April for embezzling 160 million yuan in public funds, the paper said. It was not stated why the death penalty was commuted.


Wang was the highest-ranking military official to be convicted of criminal charges, and his case was the biggest military corruption case so far in terms of public funds involved, the paper said.


Most of the funds were siphoned off between 1997 to 2001, when he served as deputy director of the People's Liberation Army's General Logistics Department, it said.


During this five-year period, Wang received almost perfect performance reviews from the logistics department.


He was stripped of his position as deputy navy commander by the Central Military Commission last December for graft, abusing his military position and having 'loose morals'. Some overseas Chinese media have reported that Wang kept at least five mistresses, most of them young women from military's school of performance arts.


An investigation team found 52 million yuan stashed in fridges and microwaves at his homes in Beijing and Nanjing , and US$2.5 million in cash was found in a washing machine. Evidence pointing to more than 50 million yuan being held in bank accounts was found in his office safe.


A crackdown on military corruption was launched when President Hu Jintao took over as chairman of the Central Military Commission in September 2004. Mr Hu ordered an audit of the financial status of more than 4,000 military officials, including about 100 senior officers, in order to clamp down on rampant corruption in the military.