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China ex-judge facing bribery charges found dead in detention cell

[JURIST] A former judicial official of China's southwest Chongqing Municipality, Wu Xiaoqing, was found dead [Xinhua report] Saturday while detained and facing charges for taking a large amount of bribes. In a statement to China Daily, the Chongqing Municipal Government [official website, in Chinese] said [China Daily report] that Wu's cellmates alerted the guards, who found that while hidden from security cameras Wu had committed suicide by hanging himself with the drawstring of his underwear. Wu was arrested in June [Xinhua report] for suspicion of taking bribes from gang members, totaling to about 3.57 million yuan (approximately 512,700 US dollars) between 1998 and 2008. Wu was also unable to explain how he obtained another $758,000. Along with Wu, deputy chief justice of the Chongqing Higher People's Court, Zhang Tao, was detained after reports that both were suspected of serious disciplinary offenses [Xinhua report]. The two police officers at the detention center at the time of Wu's death are under investigation.

Wu's arrest came among China's continuing attempt to clean up government corruption [JURIST news archive]. In October, two Chongqing courts sentenced [JURIST report] six individuals to death for their connections with organized crime gangs. In August, the Communist Party of China revoked the membership [JURIST report] of the former vice-president of the Supreme People's Court following a graft and corruption investigation. In March, the Supreme People's Court [official website, in Chinese] of China pledged to take steps to eliminate judicial corruption [JURIST report] with improved ethics education. In 2008, 712 court officials were punished for misconduct, allegedly causing negative social impacts [Xinhua report] and lessening the credibility of the courts. In January 2007, the Communist Party of China (CPC) [official website] promised to confront government corruption after former Chief Justice Xiao Yang called for judicial reform [JURIST reports] to regain the public's trust.

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