China to prosecute former senior judge for corruption: Watchdog

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China will prosecute a former senior judge from its highest court on suspicion of corruption after accusing him of crimes including illegally accepting public funds, Beijing's anti-graft watchdog said on Tuesday (Sept 29).

Xi Xiaoming, the former vice president of the Supreme People's Court, came under investigation in July for "serious violations of discipline and laws", the terminology China usually uses for corruption.

He is one of the most senior judicial officials to be ousted by 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.

Xi Xiaoming had been a member of the ruling Chinese Communist Party for 40 years but has been accused of abusing his position to help his relatives obtain benefits for their business activities, the party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said in statements on its website.

Other charges include illegally accepting public funds, breaching confidentiality rules, and leaking secrets related to judicial work.

His case has been transferred to legal authorities, the watchdog said, meaning that he will face prosecution. He has also been expelled from the party.

It was not possible to reach Xi Xiaoming for comment and it was not clear if he has a lawyer.

China's leaders have pledged to continue combating graft, seen as crucial to the party's survival, and have vowed to go after "tigers" in senior positions as well as lowly "flies".

Zhou was sentenced to life in jail in June after he was found guilty at a secret trial of bribery, leaking state secrets and abuse of power, in China's most sensational graft scandal in 70 years.

Xi Xiaoming, 61, was the number four official in the Supreme People's Court, where he specialized in economic law cases.

A native of eastern 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 Party members' group.