Former top China rail official on trial for bribes: State media

BEIJING (AFP) - A senior official from China's disgraced railways ministry went on trial on Tuesday for bribery, state-run media said, the latest to be prosecuted as authorities carry out a high-profile anti-corruption campaign.

Former deputy chief engineer Zhang Shuguang faces charges of 13 cases of bribery altogether worth 47.55 million yuan (S$9.8 million), the China Youth Daily said, citing the prosecution.

The now-dismantled railways ministry was linked with widespread corruption, with former minister Liu Zhijun given a suspended death sentence in July for taking 64.6 million yuan in bribes to help 11 people secure contracts and promotions.

He and Zhang, whom the report called a "trusted aide" of Liu, were both sacked in 2011.

Liu had been heralded as the "father" of China's vastly expanded high-speed rail network, now the world's longest and a flagship development project of the ruling Communist Party.

The ministry was disbanded in March, with its administrative functions handed to the transport ministry and its commercial role given to a new China Railway Corporation.

The charges against Zhang involve far more money than the 26.8 million yuan fallen political star Bo Xilai was accused of accepting or embezzling at his trial last month.

Another high-ranking railway official, Su Shunhu stood trial last week for allegedly taking 24 million yuan in bribes, the China Daily reported.

In recent days a businesswoman linked to the ministry, Ding Shumiao, also faced charges of illegal activities worth 180 billion yuan.

She was said to have given Liu 49 million yuan and arranged sexual favours for him, while successfully pointing him to 23 companies for more than 50 rail projects.

China's leaders have vowed to crack down on rampant official corruption, which has fed popular anger.

Their campaign has targeted a former senior economics policymaker, executives from a top state-owned oil firm and many low-level officials, but not yet introduced systematic reforms.