China says senior military officer sacked for graft is 'wicked man'

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China's top newspaper on Friday lauded the decision to prosecute a former senior military officer for graft, saying in unusually strong language that a"wicked man" had been wiped out by the "anti-corruption sword".

Guo Boxiong, who was a vice-chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission until he stepped down in 2012, has been accused of bribery and abuse of power and expelled from the ruling Communist Party, the government said on Thursday night.

The party's official People's Daily said in a front-page editorial that the decision to go after Guo meant there would be no let up in the fight against corruption, and that his case would act as a powerful warning to others.

"One wicked man wiped out, dread put in the hearts of all other wicked people," it said. "The anti-corruption sword must be raised high to cut off the bud of corruption and make the corrupt pay a price."

Sources have told Reuters that Guo, 73, has cancer, and the party had been in a quandary about whether to prosecute him in case he died before reaching trial.

His case follows that of Xu Caihou, who was also a Central Military Commission vice-chairman at the same time as Guo. The government said last October that Xu had confessed to taking "massive" bribes in exchange for help in promotions. Xu died of bladder cancer in March and his case did not reach trial.

It has not been possible to reach Guo or his family members for comment and it is not clear if he has a lawyer.

Courts, which are controlled by the party, do not challenge party accusations about corruption, and state media often pronounces guilt ahead of any trial.

The People's Daily said the party's anti-corruption struggle would "always be on the move".

"We are determined to oppose corruption. This is no flash in the pan," it wrote.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, who heads the Central Military Commission that controls the People's Liberation Army, has made weeding out corruption in the military a top goal.

The anti-graft drive in the military comes as Xi steps up efforts to modernise forces that are projecting power across the disputed waters of the East and South China Seas, although China has not fought a war in decades.