Top judge in China under probe for corruption

BEIJING • A judge in China's highest court has come under investigation for corruption, becoming one of the most senior judicial officials to be swept up by the country's anti-graft dragnet.

Xi Xiaoming, vice-president of the Supreme People's Court, has been probed for "serious violations of discipline and laws", China's anti-corruption watchdog said in a brief statement on its website yesterday.

The statement gave no further details of the charges.

The agency did not say whether Xi was sacked, but his biography was removed from the court's website less than two hours after Xinhua, the state news agency, reported the investigation.

Xi Xiaoming, 61, was the No. 4 official in the Supreme People's Court...

A native of Jiangsu province, he rose from working as a policeman in the northern city of Shenyang in the 1970s to the highest echelon of China's judiciary.

A member of the Communist Party for 40 years, Xi would be one of the most senior judicial officials to be ousted under President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign since the downfall of Zhou Yongkang, the former domestic security chief whose brief included law enforcement and courts.

The Supreme People's Court said in its 2014 annual report published in March that it had cleared the "effects" left by Zhou, who was sentenced last month to life in prison for maintaining a vast bribery network, among other things.

Xiao Tian, a deputy head of China's sports administration, was also put under investigation last month, and is the most senior sports official snared so far.

China's top leaders have pledged to continue combating graft among both "tigers" and "flies" - top leaders and lowly officials - as a matter critical to the ruling Communist Party's survival.

Xi Xiaoming, 61, was the No. 4 official in the Supreme People's Court, specialising in economic law cases.

A native of Jiangsu province, he rose from working as a policeman in the northern city of Shenyang in the 1970s to the highest echelon of China's judiciary, where he was also a member of the court's leading Communist Party members' group.

State media, meanwhile, reported that the Communist Party's disciplinary body has targeted 26 state-owned enterprises in a round of investigations that began in late February. The most recent announcement may point to the beginning of corruption probes into the judicial system.

President Xi has emphasised improving the "rule of law" in China, but maintained that the justice system must still ultimately answer to the ruling party.

But critics say no systemic reforms have been introduced to increase transparency and help tackle the problem, leaving the drive open to being used for factional in-fighting, while anti-corruption demonstrators have been jailed.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 13, 2015, with the headline 'Top judge in China under probe for corruption'. Print Edition | Subscribe