BEIJING (Reuters) - China has not started legal proceedings against former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang, the highest-profile figure to be caught in a government crackdown on corruption, a senior court official said on Saturday.
Mr Jiang Bixin, the deputy head of the Supreme People's Court, China's highest court, said any case against Mr Zhou would be handled by the courts in compliance with the law once it was lodged. He was responding to a journalist's question about Mr Zhou's fate at a news conference in Beijing that was carried live on the website of the state-run China News service.
One of the most influential Chinese politicians of the last decade, Mr Zhou is being investigated for corruption in China's biggest graft scandal since the Communist Party took power in 1949. He was last seen in public more than a year ago.
There had been speculation the authorities would provide a public update about the case against Mr Zhou last month at a meeting of members of the Communist Party elite to discuss legal reforms in the world's second-largest economy. But officials did not raise Mr Zhou's case. "If the prosecuting organs lodged their suit, the People's Court will handle it in accordance with the legally set process," Mr Jiang said. "On this point there should be no doubt."
Mr Zhou's case is a landmark in China's fight against corruption as it showed President Xi Jinping was serious about stamping out graft and willing to go after members of the elite such as Zhou, who had served on the party's Standing Committee, which is at the apex of state power.
A senior Communist Party official said this week that Mr Zhou's case was not discussed at last month's party meeting because he was no longer part of the central leadership.
Corruption investigations into China's leaders are often conducted first by the Communist Party's anti-graft watchdog, before the cases are recommended to the legal authorities.