By M.E. Dodge
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
BEIJING, China – An ex-judge, Wu Xiaoqing, who had been charged with taking bribes from gangsters, was arrested and committed suicide in his cell in central China.
Wu was found dead by his cellmates who alerted guards that he appeared dead. Officials said the former judge left a suicide note, but neither the detention house nor the police would disclose the contents of the letter. Wu, age 57, hung himself using the drawstring from his underwear five months following his arrest for corruption.
Wu, who was the ex-director of the enforcement bureau of the local municipal court, was arrested in June on suspicion of taking in more than half a million dollars in bribes from 1998 to 2008, according to a spokesman surnamed Li. Li, speaking for the Chongqing city government office, would give only his surname.
Wu’s arrest was part of a continuing crackdown on anti-corruption in sprawling Chongqing. The initiative has nabbed approximately 1,500 suspects — gangsters, prominent businessmen and 14 high-ranking government and police officials, according to China Daily newspaper. The ex-director of the enforcement bureau of the municipal higher people’s court and president of a local court college was seized in June as part of an anti-corruption initiative.
China in recent years has adopted a dual approach that combined both prevention and punishment to address the country’s wide spread corruption. As part of the anti-corruption initiative, officials from the National People’s Congress have called for tougher penalties for officials with big assets from unidentified sources. Officials who cannot give the source of their assets could be jailed for up to 10 years, instead of the current five years. According to Li Shishi, director of the NPC Standing Committee’s Legal Affairs Commission “We consider it necessary to impose severe punishment on officials abusing their power for personal gains.” However, the range of punishment for charges of corruption or bribery are not uniformly applied. A typical penalty range that is often referred to notes that the sentence for accepting bribes for amounts between 5,000 and 50,000 yuan is often one to 10 years in prison, five years to life for 50,000 to 100,000 yuan, and for bribes of more than 100,000 yuan the penalty can be 10 years in jail to the death sentence.
Six gang members in the city have been sentenced to death for crimes including murder and blackmail. China has a mixed record of cracking down on corruption, but when the country does, the punishment is often severe. For instance, two years ago, the director of China’s food and drug agency was executed for approving deadly fake medicine in exchange for cash.
The most senior official to be subjected to China’s harsh bribery punishment for his recent corruption charges was Shanghai’s former Communist Party chief, Chen Liangy. Chen was sentenced last year to 18 years in prison for his role in a pension fund scandal. In addition to investigations of other public officials, Hu Yanyu, a partner at Zhibo Law Firm from 2001 to 2008 and Wu’s alleged mistress, are also being investigated along with at least 10 other lawyers, said Zhou Litai, a Chongqing-based lawyer.
For more information, please see:
CBS World News – Ex-judge Facing Corruption Charges Commits Suicide In Central China – November 30, 2009
China Daily – Accused ex-judge found hanged in cell – November 30, 2009
China Service News – Senior judge handed over to judicial organs over bribery allegations – November 30, 2009
Yahoo! World News – Ex-judge facing China bribery charges kills self – November 30, 2009