Corrupt rail official′s mistress gets prison

China has stepped up its fight against corrupt officials and those near them, judicial experts said, after a Beijing court sentenced the mistress of a former railway official on Tuesday.

Luo Fei, the mistress of Zhang Shuguang, former deputy chief engineer of the transport bureau under what was then the ministry of railways - now China Railway Corp - was sentenced to five years in prison for bribery, Beijing Legal Evening News reported on Tuesday. Beijing No 2 Intermediate People′s Court said that Luo helped Zhang accept and hide at least 1.98 million yuan ($322,000) in bribes. Luo pleaded guilty at a trial in November 2013, according to the report.

Luo, who was a singer in a railway arts group, did not appeal to a higher court after the judgment was announced, the report said.

Zhang, 57, was sentenced on Oct 17 to death with a two-year reprieve for taking 45.55 million yuan in bribes. He was the second high-ranking railway official charged with graft.

Zhang, from Jiangsu province, was regarded as the right-hand man of Liu Zhijun, the former railways minister, who was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve in July 2013 for accepting 64.6 million yuan in bribes and for abuse of power.

Zhang confessed when his case was heard in September 2013 that he gave Luo a job with a monthly salary of 16,000 yuan plus a car and watches, the court added.

Yi Shenghua, a criminal lawyer in Beijing, said it is rare to see the mistress of such a high-level former official receive criminal punishment, but Luo′s case may set a precedent.

In the past, the involvement of officials′ mistresses in corruption cases was seldom disclosed, and most mistresses were simply ordered to pay back the illicit money, Yi said.

"But now, I strongly feel that our country′s efforts and crackdowns target corruption. We not only fight corrupt officials, but also those involved with them in their cases," he said.

Yang Weidong, a law professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance, echoed Yi′s sentiments, saying Luo′s punishment is in accordance with the revised Chinese Criminal Law.

Previously, only government officers could be charged with crimes by taking advantage of their duties or work position, such as corruption and bribery, but under the current law, people closer to these officials or involved in graft cases can be also charged with the duty crimes, Yang said.


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