China begins bribery trial of ally of former security tsar

BEIJING (REUTERS) - The bribery trial of another former senior official tied to ousted Chinese security tsar Zhou Yongkang opened on Wednesday (Oct 14), state media said, the latest in a string of graft trials and sentencings ahead of a key Communist Party meeting this month.

President Xi Jinping has warned that rampant corruption threatens the survival of the ruling party and scores of top officials in the party, the government, the military and state-owned companies have been brought down in a sweeping anti-graft campaign.

Zhou, the disgraced former public security chief, was jailed for life in June after a secret trial in China's most sensational graft scandal in 70 years.

A court in the north-eastern city of Tianjin began the trial of former vice public security minister Li Dongsheng on charges of illegally accepting almost 22 million yuan (S$4.9 million) worth of assets and abuse of power in positions he held between 1996 and 2013, the official Xinhua news agency said.

"During court proceedings, persecutors presented relevant evidence, Li Dongsheng and his defenders conducted examination, the prosecution and the defence both fully issued opinions, and Li Dongsheng made a final statement," Xinhua said.

Li's trial comes after the sentencing this week of several Zhou allies, including former oil executives Jiang Jiemin and Wang Yongchun, an aide from Sichuan province Guo Yongxiang, and Li Chuncheng, the former deputy party boss in Sichuan, who were all given prison terms between 13 and 20 years.

China's biggest oil company, China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), was a power base for Zhou.

A Tianjin court on Tuesday also opened the bribery trial of Zhou's associate, Ji Wenlin, the former vice governor of the southern province of Hainan.

The party's elite central committee will meet from Oct 26-29 to set out the 13th Five-Year plan, a blueprint for economic and social development between 2016 and 2020. Last year's annual plenum focused on rule of law.