China jails brother of former aide to retired President Hu Jintao for graft

Ling Zhengce has been jailed for 12-and-a-half years after he was found guilty of receiving bribes.
Ling Zhengce has been jailed for 12-and-a-half years after he was found guilty of receiving bribes.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (Reuters) - A court in China on Friday (Dec 16) jailed for 12-and-a-half years the brother of a disgraced one-time aide to former President Hu Jintao after finding him guilty of receiving bribes, state news agency Xinhua said.

Ling Zhengce, the former deputy head of the parliamentary advisory body in the coal-rich northern province of Shanxi, is the elder brother of Ling Jihua. The former aide to Hu was jailed for life in July, after a case which the ruling Communist Party has said caused major damage to its image.

In a brief report, Xinhua said the court in Changzhou in Jiangsu province had found Ling Zhengce guilty of taking either directly or indirectly 16 million yuan ($2.30 million) in bribes from 2001 to 2014.

State television cited the court as saying that Ling had admitted his crimes, expressed repentance and cooperated, meaning he got a lighter sentence.

It was not possible to reach him or a legal representative for comment. Authorities announced an investigation into him in June 2014.

Vice Premier Ma Kai last year described the corruption problem in Shanxi as "like a cancer". As one of China's top coal-producing provinces, its economy boomed on the back of soaring energy demand over the past decade, one of the reasons state media has given for its graft problem.

In January, China acknowledged for the first time that it was communicating with the United States about Ling Wancheng, a third brother. The government has given no details of any crime in which Ling is suspected, and he has not appeared on any wanted lists.

Since assuming power in late 2012, President Xi Jinping has pursued a relentless campaign against corruption, warning that the problem could threaten the Communist Party's ability to retain power, though some analysts say he is also eliminating rivals.