Ex-president Hu's aide, Ling Jihua, gets life sentence for corruption

Ling had accepted bribes amounting to over $16 million personally and through his family, according to Xinhua, which cited the court ruling.
Ling had accepted bribes amounting to over $16 million personally and through his family, according to Xinhua, which cited the court ruling.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

China has sentenced former presidential aide Ling Jihua to life imprisonment, capping a series of prosecutions in the country against high-ranking officials for graft.

Ling, 59, was jailed for corruption, illegally obtaining state secrets and abuse of power, the official Xinhua news agency reported yesterday.

He had accepted bribes totalling more than 77 million yuan (S$16 million) personally and through his family, Xinhua said, citing a ruling by the First Intermediate People's Court of Tianjin, which held a closed-door trial for Ling on June 7.

"Ling Jihua took an extremely large amount of bribes," the court said. "He obtained a large number of state secrets, and the crimes were very serious. He abused his power and (his actions had) a terrible impact on society."

Xinhua quoted Ling as saying in court that the trial "will be engraved in my memory".

In an evening TV news bulletin, a grey-haired but healthy-looking Ling was also shown addressing the court during his hearing.

"I accept all the charges and abide by the ruling," he said in a calm tone, adding that he will not appeal against the sentence. He thanked the court for its care.

Ling Jihua took an extremely large amount of bribes. He obtained a large number of state secrets, and the crimes were very serious. He abused his power and (his actions had) a terrible impact on society.

FIRST INTERMEDIATE PEOPLE'S COURT OF TIANJIN

Ling is the last of the major "tigers", or political heavyweights, in China to confess to corruption, among those ensnared in recent years by President Xi Jinping's sweeping anti-graft campaign.

Others who admitted to graft charges before Ling include former Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang and retired general Guo Boxiong. Zhou was also sentenced to life imprisonment, while Guo is awaiting trial.

Ling, who had served former president Hu Jintao, was seen as a rising political star until he was demoted in 2012 for allegedly trying to cover up a car crash in Beijing that killed his son. The younger Ling was found dead in a Ferrari with two semi-nude women.

The announcement of Ling's sentencing comes just three days after the Chinese Communist Party celebrated its 95th anniversary, during which Mr Xi spoke at length about corruption, calling it "the biggest danger" the party faces.

Xinhua yesterday reported that during Ling's trial, his wife Gu Liping had testified via video against him, with the help of multimedia presentations of evidence.

It also named other high-profile former politicians linked to Ling's corrupt dealings, including former Yunnan party chief Bai Enpei and former Sichuan deputy party chief Li Chuncheng. Both men had earlier been implicated in graft cases.

The court said that in exchange for favours, Ling accepted bribes valued at 600,000 yuan from Bai, while his wife Gu accepted bribes valued at 890,000 yuan from Li.

Xinhua's report added that Ling also illegally obtained a large amount of classified materials through his former General Office employee Huo Ke, which "severely breached the state confidentiality system".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 05, 2016, with the headline 'Ex-president Hu's aide gets life sentence for corruption'. Print Edition | Subscribe