The graft investigation into former security chief Zhou Yongkang will take longer than expected because authorities are taking a painstaking approach to gathering evidence, a senior judicial official said yesterday.
Zhang Sujun , vice-minister of justice, said the government would make an announcement once the Communist Party′s anti-graft agency had completed its investigation.
"[We] will make an announcement to the public when the investigation has come to a specified stage," Zhang said in Beijing.
"I believe that once the relevant authorities have done their probe, they will definitely make the announcement to the public in an appropriate way via an appropriate channel."
Zhou is by far the highest-profile figure caught up in President Xi Jinping's crackdown on corruption. He is the most senior Chinese official to be ensnared in a graft scandal since the Communist Party took power in 1949.
There had been expectations that authorities would provide a public update about the case against Zhou last month at a meeting of members of the Communist Party elite to discuss legal reforms in the world's second-largest economy.
But the party has been largely silent on Zhou's fate since it first announced the probe in July.
Zhang said Zhou had been investigated for misconduct by the party′s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. Its findings could be used in court.
The CCDI had been conducting its investigation "in accordance with the law and also paying attention to evidence, so this process may be a long one, but also more serious and responsible", he said.
Zhang said the government was taking a "serious, responsible, comprehensive and systematic approach" to the investigation. Attaching such importance to gathering evidence reflected the spirit of "equality before the law", he said.
He said the investigation had bolstered the public′s confidence in government efforts to promote the rule of law, which was the focus of the fourth plenum last month.
His statement is in line with a remark by a senior judge on Saturday. Jiang Bixin , deputy head of the Supreme People′s Court, said the judicial department had yet to start legal proceedings against Zhou. The party wanted the case against him to be solid, Jiang said.
A senior party official said Zhou was not publicly mentioned at the plenum as he was no longer a member of the central leadership. He retired at the 18th party congress in November 2012, when the party installed the fifth generation of leadership.