[JURIST] China’s ex-security chief Zhou Yongkang was found guilty Thursday of bribery, abuse of power and intentionally disclosing national secrets was sentenced to life imprisonment. He has also been deprived of his political rights for life and has had his personal assets confiscated. A year after Zhou’s retirement in 2012, he was put under investigation as part of President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign. Zhou’s trial was largely kept secret [Xinhua report]. Some speculate that this was because he was not cooperating with prosecutors, while others thought that the Chinese government was embarrassed by Zhou’s crimes. Zhou was found to have, among other things, accepted bribes of about 130 million yuan (USD $21.3 million), leaked five highly confidential documents and taken large bribes in return for information about China’s Communist party. Other senior officials convicted of serious crimes within China have typically been sentenced to death. However, due to Zhou’s cooperation in returning all gifts and cash, and the fact that his disclosure of state secrets did not have very serious consequences, Zhou was given a lesser punishment.
The Chinese government has worked in recent years to reform its judicial system and combat corruption. In March officials announced that efforts against corruption have led to the investigation and conviction of 14 generals [JURIST report] for corrupt financial practices. In February Chinese officials announced [JURIST report] the impending prosecution of Su Rong, former vice chairman of China’s top parliamentary advisory board, for graft. In July China’s former Communist Party leader Bo Xilai was formally charged [JURIST report] with corruption, embezzlement and abuse of power. In March 2012 the President and Chief Justice of China’s Supreme People’s Court (SPC) told the National People’s Congress (NPC) that the country must continue to implement legal reform [JURIST report] to combat corruption and foster social and economic growth.