China’s ex-railways minister charged with bribery, power abuse

Beijing, April 10 (IANS) Former Chinese railways minister Liu Zhijun has been charged with bribery and abuse of power, the authorities said Wednesday.

The Second Branch of Beijing People’s Procuratorate filed the charges against Liu with the city’s No.2 Intermediate People’s Court. The court has accepted the case and will set a trial date, Xinhua reported.

The procuratorate has told Liu of his rights. It has interrogated him and heard the opinion of his legal defender during examination and prosecution.

According to the indictment issued by the Second Branch of Beijing People’s Procuratorate, as a state functionary, Liu sought benefits for others by taking advantage of his position and accepted huge financial incentives from others.

The indictment said as a staff member of a state organ, Liu engaged in malpractices for personal gain and abuse of power, leading to huge losses of public properties and of the interests of the state and its people.

With “especially serious circumstances”, Liu should be subject to criminal liabilities for bribe taking and abuse of power according to law.

The prosecution comes two years after he was dismissed from his post for serious disciplinary violations. He was also stripped of his position as Communist Party of China (CPC) chief at the ministry.

Liu had accepted massive bribes and bore major responsibility for rampant corruption in the railways industry, according to an earlier statement of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

Liu, 60, became the railways minister and the ministry’s party chief in March 2003.

The ministry has long been criticized for being both a policy-maker and a service provider. The public trust in the railway system has been hit hard by a series of corruption and safety scandals during the past few years.

A high-speed train collision in 2011 left 40 people dead and 172 injured near the eastern city of Wenzhou.

Last month, China dismantled the ministry of railways into administrative and commercial arms to reduce bureaucracy and improve railway service efficiency.

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