28Chinese Court Sentences Ex-Top Communist Official to Life Term for Graft

28Chinese Court Sentences Ex-Top Communist Official to Life Term for Graft

28Chinese Court Sentences Ex-Top Communist Official to Life Term for Graft

He pleaded guilty to the charges during a one-day trial last month.

Many China politics experts and some party insiders attribute Mr. Sun's downfall to his reputation as a possible next-generation leader whose ties were to senior party figures other than Mr. Xi.

Sun Zhengcai, a former politburo member and party chief of the south-western mega city of Chongqing, was found guilty of taking more than 170 million yuan ($35.7 million) in bribes, the First Intermediate People's Court of Tianjin said on its website.

The court heard that between 2002 and past year, Sun had taken advantage of his position to seek profits for others and illegally accepted money, according to previous court statements.

In September, the Politburo of the Central Committee made a decision to exclude Sun from the ranks of the party citing "violation of the party discipline".

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Sun was given a "lenient" sentence in exchange for his cooperation, the court in the northern port city of Tianjin said on Tuesday. In order to retrieve his "illegal gains", authorities are set to confiscate Sun's property and he will be deprived of his political rights for the rest of his life.

One of the most powerful men in all of China presently, Jinping rose to fame due to his anti-corruption stance. Sun was sent to Chongqing to fill the void left by Bo, but he failed to wipe out his predecessor's "lingering pernicious influence", Communist Party of China investigators determined.

Xi in March saw through a constitutional amendment removing term limits on the presidency, setting himself up to remain head of state indefinitely.

In July, Sun was abruptly removed from his post as the ruling Communist Party's chief of the southwestern city of Chongqing and was replaced by Chen Miner, a protege of current President Xi Jinping.

Sun was the first serving member of the 25-member politburo to be placed under investigation since Bo Xilai (薄熙來), another former leader of Chongqing, who was jailed for life in 2013. Despite the fact that the campaign has been effective in prosecuting officials, some critics perceived this major ant-corruption crackdown as the president's way of eliminating his political rivals.

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