18 February 2018
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  • » 06/11/2015, 00.00


    China’s former ‘national security czar’ Zhou Yongkang sentenced to life imprisonment

    The powerful former head of the country’s security services was convicted on charges of corruption, abuse of power and sale of state secrets. His trial was held behind closed doors because of national security considerations. Zhou is the first member of the Politburo (current or retired) to go to jail. He said he would not appeal, but will likely end up in a five-star prison for Communist leaders who have fallen from grace.

    Beijing (AsiaNews) – The Intermediate People's Court in Tianjin sentenced Zhou Yongkang to life imprisonment. The former powerful "national security czar" is the first member (current or retired) of the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party to end up in prison.

    A close associate of former presidents Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, he was found guilty of corruption, abuse of power and sale of state secrets. The maximum penalty for the first charge is death, seven years in the case of the other two. Zhou said he would not appeal his conviction.

    According to the state-owned Xinhua news agency, there was no public trial because the evidence presented involved state secrets. By contrast, the case against Bo Xilai, the former Chongqing Party boss and rising start who belonged to a faction hostile to current president Xi Jinping, was prominently covered by the media. Thanks in part to his passionate defence, he was able to harness substantial public support.

    In Zhou’s case, the court ordered his personal assets to be seized. It also stripped him of all political rights for the rest of his life. It is still unclear what will happen to the member of his family caught up in the scandal and awaiting trial.

    In all likelihood, Zhou will serve his sentence in Qincheng prison, in the hills north of Beijing, where all the disgraced Communist leaders are jailed.

    "It looks like a five-star hotel,” said prominent dissident Bao Tong, who spent seven years in the prison. “Each cell is large and comfortable, with a soft bed, a sofa, a work desk and a private bathroom". Bao is a former secretary and friend of the late Zhao Ziyang.

    Similarly, Dai Qing, daughter of a former People's Liberation Army commander, said, "When I first saw the cell I was pleasantly surprised.”

    Prisoners in Qincheng can choose their own clothes, drink milk in the morning and eat from a selection of meals that includes soups and meat. Some of the prison cooks worked in prestigious hotels in the capital.

    In addition, the prison was renovated in 2012. A wall was removed to make room for pavilions, trees and manicured lawns.

    By comparison, the average Chinese prison is like hell, full of dirt, overcrowded and violent, this according to some former inmates.

    The investigation against Zhou began in August 2013, a year after he retired from active political life. It followed President Xi’s anti-corruption campaign "against tigers and flies" after the latter came to power.

    The indictment against the former “national security tsar” includes taking large bribes during his tenure as deputy general manager of state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation, provincial Communist Party chief in Sichuan, head of the Ministry of Public Security and chief of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission.

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    See also

    14/04/2014 CHINA
    Beijing: two more Zhou Yongkang cronies arrested
    For experts and analysts, the government is trying to rid itself of former powerful "national security czar." Zhao Miao and Yan Cunzhang, two of his associates, are the latest victims, both accused of corruption. For one observer, a "power struggle" is underway.

    06/12/2014 CHINA
    Corruption "tiger" Zhou Yongkang expelled from party and arrested
    China's former security chief is accused of corruption, but also of leaking state and party secrets, as well as giving money to mistresses and cronies. However, doubts remain as to whether the campaign is against corruption or political adversaries. Zhou was a friend of Bo Xilai.

    15/07/2014 CHINA
    China, trial opens against Zhou Yongkang clique
    To great media fanfare, China’s top prosecutor’s office announces criminal proceedings against three former senior government officials: two were protected by the powerful ex national security "czar". Increasingly insistent rumors of a possible arrest of Zhou, considered until two years ago the "most powerful and feared" politician in all of China.

    13/02/2018 13:32:00 CHINA
    Former Chongqing party boss Sun Zhengcai accused of corruption

    He was a member of the Politburo and touted as Xi Jinping’s successor. His trial will take place in Tianjin, where Zhou Yongkang and Ling Jihua were tried. Both belonged to groups not in step with Xi.

    22/06/2015 CHINA
    Bao Tong: Zhou Yongkang’s trial is a step backward for the rule of law in China
    The great political analyst, under house arrest for trying to prevent the Tiananmen massacre, speaks about the case against the former security czar. Despite a pledge by the Supreme Court to hold a trial “in open court,” the case was tried in camera. The anti-corruption campaign needs popular legitimacy. It is ridiculous to pick out “which tigers should be hunted” after launching the chase.

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