06/13/2007, 00.00
CHINA
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Corruption charges against judges and police in Tianjin, one suicide

Top court and police officials are removed from office because of corruption charges. Song Pingshun, chairman of Tianjin's Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, kills himself after meeting party officials. Beijing is cleaning up the situation by sending in new people.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – In Tianjin several leaders have been removed after corruption charges were laid against them, including the city's Higher Court President Zhang Baifeng, the Information Centre for Human Rights & Democracy (ICHRD) reported yesterday. A few days ago Song Pingshun, chairman of Tianjin's Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, committed suicide.

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI)—the Communist Party's top anti-corruption body—began investigating Zhang for alleged bribery and mistress-related scandals, but he is yet to be placed under shuanggui, a party disciplinary measure which usually puts suspect party members under house arrest and makes them confess their wrongdoings.

His case is but the latest in a string of scandals to hit Tianjin, a city of some ten million people, and one of four municipalities under the direct control of the central government.

“Top officials in Tianjin's judicial system, which comprises the people's court, procuratorate and public security, have all been involved in corruption scandals,” the Hong Kong-based ICHRD said.

Song, who took his life on Sunday after returning from a talk with CCDI officials, served as the city's deputy mayor, police chief and secretary of the Communist Party's Tianjin Political and Law Committee, which oversees police, prosecutors and judges.

He was also closely involved with Wu Changshun, the former head of Tianjin's police force, who was detained last June for alleged bribery connected to property deals.

In another twist to the city’s corruption saga, Pi Qiansheng, the man in charge of the Binhai New Area—Tianjin's answer to Shanghai's Pudong—was replaced on Sunday. He too had spent almost his entire career in Tianjin and was said to have close ties to Li Baojin, the city's former chief prosecutor who was dismissed in August for a “severe breach of discipline.”

After a string of corruption cases in the past year, the central government sent a raft of new officials to the northern boom city to clean up the political mess.

Zhang Gaoli, the former party secretary of Shandong, was moved to Tianjin in March as the city's new party chief.

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