Chinese general with gold statue trove given suspended death sentence

BEIJING (AFP) - A top Chinese military officer was given a suspended death sentence for corruption, state media said on Monday, in a case where he was exposed as owning dozens of homes, gold statues and luxury liquor.

Gu Junshan was also stripped of his rank of lieutenant-general, the official Xinhua news agency reported, but there is little chance he will be executed as the suspended penalty is almost always converted into a life sentence after two years.

"Gu Junshan has been found guilty of corruption, accepting bribes, embezzlement of public funds, paying bribes, and abuse of power," Xinhua said, citing a military court.

Gu, the former deputy director of the army's General Logistics Department, was first placed under investigation more than three years ago.

Last year, widespread coverage of his opulent lifestyle in China's strictly controlled media indicated that authorities wanted to publicise his alleged misdeeds.

He owned dozens of apartments in central Beijing, and his mansion in Puyang in the central province of Henan housed several gold art pieces, the magazine Caixin reported at the time.

The Puyang home was modelled on the Forbidden City - the former imperial palace in Beijing - covered 1ha of land and was dubbed the "General's Mansion" by locals, the magazine said.

Officials seized "a gold boat, a gold wash basin and a gold statue of Mao Zedong" along with crates of expensive liquor from the premises, it added.

As an additional punishment, the government confiscated all Gu's personal property, Xinhua said.

Since taking power in late 2012, President Xi Jinping has moved to ensure the ruling Communist Party's control of the military and loyalty in its ranks.