China’s ex-security chief jailed for life at secret trial
He admitted to charges of “bribery, abuse of power and leaking state secrets” at a closed hearing in the northern city of Tianjin, the official Xinhua news agency said in a surprise report.
Zhou, 72, is a former member of the ruling Communist Party’s all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee who wielded vast power as head of the police and courts until his retirement in 2012.
State broadcaster CCTV showed a humbled Zhou bowing his head and saying he “admitted his crimes” in a wood-panelled court, his black hair now white and his previously fierce expression gone.
“I acknowledge that the facts of my crimes have caused great damage to the Party’s work,” he said, surrounded by dark-suited court officials.
The court said Zhou and a number of associates received more than 2.1 billion yuan ($338 million) in profits from various illegal business activities, Xinhua reported.
Zhou was convicted of taking bribes of about 130 million yuan, it said, adding that he would not appeal and the court will confiscate his personal property.
He also passed on five “top-secret documents” to Cao Yongzheng, who is described in reports as a fortune-teller and practitioner of a mysterious Chinese martial art known as “Qigong,” it said.
China’s President Xi Jinping has vowed to clamp down on corrupt officials in a campaign against endemic corruption, with a number of former high-fliers placed under investigation since he came to power in 2012.
But critics say that lack of systemic reforms, such as separating the judiciary from government control or allowing media to report freely on graft, mean the drive is little more than an excuse for political witch-hunting.