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Former Senior Chinese Politician Gets Life in Prison for Bribery


FILE - Liu Tienan, then deputy chairman of China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), attends a news conference in Beijing, February 27, 2009.

A former top Chinese economic planning official has been convicted of bribery and sentenced to life in prison, becoming the latest high-profile figure to be brought down by China's anti-corruption campaign.

The official Xinhua news agency said Liu Tienan was found guilty of taking $5.8 million in bribes during his time as the deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission, China's top economic planning body.

The allegations against Liu first surfaced in December 2012 when a journalist at the Caijing investigative magazine posted the stories on his microblog.

Liu at first forcefully denied the charges. But at his trial in September, the 60-year-old was seen tearfully confessing to taking various bribes, including cash, a Porsche, and a luxury Beijing villa.

That Liu would be found guilty was never in doubt, since China's Communist Party-controlled courts have a conviction rate nearing 100 percent. But prosecutors had pleaded for leniency, arguing he had cooperated with investigators.

In the end, the sentence delivered Wednesday by a court north of the capital in Langfang was the maximum allowed for the crimes.

Liu, who also served as the director of the National Energy Administration, is one of more than 50 high-ranking officials to face charges under President Xi Jinping's anti-graft campaign. Many more low-level officials have been brought down.

Last week, ex-national security chief Zhou Yongkang was arrested and stripped of his Communist Party membership on charges of leaking state secrets and taking bribes. The retired member of the elite Politburo Standing Committee is the highest level Chinese Communist official to be prosecuted in more than three decades.

It is unclear if the anti-graft campaign can succeed, since it does not appear to be working alongside any wider reforms of China's political system. In addition, the country's courts are controlled by the Communist Party, making it difficult to judge whether corruption convictions have political motives.

But Xi has vowed to push ahead with the campaign, saying rampant corruption is threatening the legitimacy and rule of the party, which is the only ruling faction in China.