Beijing (AsiaNews) - The former head of the Communist Party in Inner Mongolia has been sentenced to life imprisonment for taking bribes that have led to pollution of the Mongolian steppe and the oppression of Mongolian herders. According to the judgment, published yesterday, by Beijing News, Liu Zhozhi, who had been expelled from the party before trial, used his eight years in power to pocket up to 8.17 million Yuan (over one million euros).
The judgment, delivered on 2 July by the People's Court of Beijing, was not appealed by the convicted.
According to the indictment, from 2002 to 2010 Liu was successively head of the government's Xilingol League, then the party secretary, then vice president of the Government of the Autonomous Region. With this leverage, he accepted bribes to approve new rates and economic enterprises, especially giving licenses for the requisition of land for mining.
In recent years the race to exploit mines in the Xilingol region - from copper to rare metals- has led to the destruction of landscapes, the drying up water sources for pastures and the pollution of land. Mongolian herders have long complained and rebelled against this, even if the government tried to suppress their riots.
Liu Zhuozhi also grew wealthy by facilitating promotions in the party for his friends. For every promotion he received about 650 thousand Yuan.
The court sentenced him to a "light" term (not the death penalty) because Liu has confessed his crimes and returned the money received as bribes.