At 5.30pm on July 9, a powerful explosion tore a cruising Honda Fit car into pieces on one of the main streets in Jinan, the capital of Shandong province . The 31-year-old female driver, Liu Haiping , died instantly as the blast cut her body into pieces with only her upper torso and head intact. The blast also wounded a taxi driver and one passer-by. Police rushed to the scene and quickly established that Liu was a civil servant working for the city's bureau of land resources because of the car licence plate - a special one issued by the city's police to the city's top officials and their relatives. Using the clues provided by the plate, the police forced their way into Liu's home and found photos of her posing intimately with Duan Yihe , 61, chairman of Jinan's Municipal People's Congress. It was later established that Liu had been Duan's mistress since 2000 and their affair had been an open secret among many city officials. On the night of July 11, police arrested the main culprit suspected of planting the bomb under Liu's car seat - Chen Zhi , a senior policeman in Jinan, who married Duan's niece. Chen testified that Duan had ordered the hit, and Duan was arrested soon afterwards, with the announcement of his arrest officially made on July 16. According to official media reports, Duan wanted Liu dead because she kept asking for more money although he already bought several homes for her and found cushy government jobs for her relatives. Exactly one month after the explosion, on August 9, Duan was sentenced to death for murder, illegal use of explosives and bribe-taking. He is appealing against the verdict, but it is likely that his appeal will be rejected and that he will soon be executed. It is no surprise that the state media has hailed the swift sentencing as an example of the Communist Party's determination to root out corruption, and use Duan's sentence to warn others. What the state media has failed to report is that Duan's case has exposed a darker and more sinister side of the party's totalitarian controls. The case is shocking not because he is financially corrupt and morally degenerate. After all, he was accused of taking bribes worth 1.69 million yuan and failing to account for 1.3 million yuan in assets as well as keeping a mistress. Mainlanders have already taken it for granted that there is widespread official corruption and keeping mistresses has become a status symbol for officials from the central government to local authorities. The truly shocking nature of the case is that senior officials like Duan can behave like mafia bosses because of their power and lack of effective supervision. They take bribes, have dalliances with women and use judicial power at will. Duan is not the first senior government official to order the police to take someone out. In 2005, Lu Debin, a former deputy governor of Henan , was arrested for having his wife chopped to pieces. To carry out the hit, Lu contacted a deputy director of the Xinxiang Public Security Bureau, who contracted out the killing to two thugs. Lu has since been sentenced to death. The fact that both officials could order the police to carry out mob-style hits says a lot about the dangers of a lack of checks and balances in a country where the press is muzzled and government transparency is little.