China’s former justice minister Fu Zhenghua, who led several high-profile corruption investigations, has been jailed for life for accepting bribes, state media said, as a purge of officials was escalating ahead of a key Communist Party congress.
Fu, 67, was given a suspended death sentence, which will be commuted to life imprisonment after two years, without the possibility of parole, according to state media on Thursday.
Fu was deputy head of the Ministry of Public Security before becoming justice minister in 2018, and had led numerous high-profile investigations and crackdowns, including an investigation a decade ago into Zhou Yongkang, a former czar of security and the most powerful official in modern China. be convicted of corruption.
In July, Fu admitted taking bribes exceeding 117 million yuan ($16.50 million).
Ahead of Fu’s trial in the northeastern city of Changchun, China’s anti-corruption watchdog determined earlier this year that Fu had also been part of a “political gang” of Sun Lijun – one of the most prominent security apparatus officials to be targeted since Zhou’s conviction in 2015.
Sun, who was deputy public security minister when investigations against him began in 2020, admitted on state television in January that he colluded with some senior law enforcement officials in the purpose of personal enrichment.
Sun has also been accused of not embracing President Xi Jinping’s authority.
The influence of Sun, who has yet to receive his sentence, was so pervasive within the party that it had been described by authorities as “toxic” and Sun himself was like a “cancer” that he had to be eliminated.
On Wednesday, three former police chiefs from Shanghai, Chongqing and Shanxi province were sentenced to years in prison – including one to life – for corruption.
Like Fu, they had also been accused of being part of Sun’s clique and being disloyal to Xi.
The purges came three weeks ahead of a once-every-five-year ruling Communist Party congress where Xi is expected to secure an unprecedented third term as leader of China.