Former Beijing vice mayor handed suspended death sentence

October 19th, 2008 - 6:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Oct 19 (DPA) China has handed a suspended death sentence to a former vice mayor of Beijing who was in charge of Olympic construction before his arrest for corruption.A court announced the sentence Saturday after finding Liu Zhihua guilty of taking bribes totalling 6.97 million yuan ($1.02 million), Jinghua Shibao newspaper reported Sunday.

Liu’s death sentence was suspended for two years, after which it would normally be commuted to life in prison, subject to good behaviour.

The convictions against Liu, 59, related to his service as vice mayor of Beijing and director of the city’s Zhongguancun Science Park from 1999 to 2006, the newspaper quoted the verdict by the Hengshui Intermediate People’s Court as saying.

The court ruled that bribes were “pocketed by Liu and his mistress Wang Jianrui” and that Liu had “abused his power to get contract projects, loans and offer promotions for others in exchange for profits”.

The court tried Liu Tuesday and Wang Wednesday, court officials said earlier, but there was no immediate news of any verdict in Wang’s case.

The newspaper quoted Liu’s lawyer, Mo Shaoping, as saying his client had not yet decided if he would exercise his right of appeal against the sentence.

It was also not known if any charges against the couple were linked to construction of Olympic-related sites.

As vice mayor, Liu was responsible for management of construction, real estate, sports and traffic projects in Beijing, reports said.

He also served as the head of the 2008 Venues Construction Headquarters for the Beijing Olympics.

After his sacking in June 2006, Beijing officials denied Liu’s problems were related to Olympic construction and said his sacking had not affected the completion of Olympic venues.

The Beijing city government said it had found evidence of Liu’s “corruption and dissoluteness” but gave no details of the allegations against him.

Corruption trials involving senior officials have normally been held outside their home cities in recent years after allegations that local courts had treated some officials leniently.

Hengshui is in the northern province of Hebei , about 300 km south of Beijing.

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