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China ex-rail boss gets suspended death for graft

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July 7, 2013 10:59 PM EST | AP

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BEIJING — A Chinese court handed a former railways minister a suspended death sentence Monday for bribery and abuse of power in one of the country's highest-level corruption cases in years.

The official Xinhua News Agency said Liu Zhijun was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve by a court in Beijing on Monday. After two years, such sentences typically are commuted to life in prison if the inmate shows good behavior.

Liu, 60, who oversaw the ministry's high-profile bullet train development, was accused of taking massive bribes and steering lucrative projects to associates. The case has been seen as an indicator of how top-level officials might fare in an anti-corruption campaign that Chinese leader Xi Jinping has vowed will target both high and low officials.

The Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People's Court also ordered the confiscation of all of Liu's personal property, Xinhua reported.

Liu's lawyer Qian Lieyang said his client would likely not appeal the sentence. The lawyer refused to make further comment on the case.

Xinhua quoted the judge who ruled in the case, Bai Shanyun, as saying the circumstances of Liu's case called for a lenient sentence.

Xinhua said in a post on its official microblog that Bai said Liu had cooperated with investigations, told the truth about crimes that he committed, offered information on cases that the authorities had not known about and helped recover a large part of the misused funds. Liu was remorseful and pleaded guilty, Bai said.

Prosecutors accused Liu of using his position of influence to help about 11 business associates win promotions and project contracts and accepted 64.6 million Chinese yuan ($10.5 million) in unspecified bribes between 1986 and 2011.