China Focus: Sinopec ex-chairman gets death sentence with reprieve after reporting others' crimes 2009-07-15 18:02:20   Print

    BEIJING, July 15 (Xinhua) -- The former chairman of China's state-run oil refiner Sinopec Chen Tonghai was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve for taking huge bribes, after providing clues to others' crimes that have played a role in investigating cases, according to an intermediate court statement on Wednesday.

    The Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People's Court did not reveal which particular cases Chen's confession had helped.

    Chen, the former chairman of the China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec Corp.), had his political rights deprived for life and all his personal property confiscated, according to the court verdict of his first trial on Wednesday.

    According to the law, Chen can lodge an appeal in 10 days if he does not agree with the court's decision.

    His case was sentenced after more than two years of investigation.

    Chen surrendered "all the facts relating to his bribe-taking" which investigators had not known, said the court, which recognized his surrender as a "confession to justice" and reduced his penalty, which could have been a death sentence based on the nature of his crime.

    The court said, Chen took about 195.73 million yuan (28.66 million U.S. dollars) in bribes from 1999 to June 2007 by taking advantage of his positions as deputy general manger of the China Petrochemical Corporation (Sinopec Group), general manager of the Sinopec Group, vice chairman of the Sinopec Corp. and chairman of the Sinopec Corp.

    In return, he helped others seek illegal interests in the enterprises' operation, land transfers and project contracts, according to the court.

    "Given that Chen had confessed and turned in all the bribes he had taken, admitted his crimes and provided clues to others' crimes, the court sentenced him to death with a two-year reprieve according to law," said the court.

    China's law rules that deciding on penalties for crimes should be based on "criminal facts, the crime's nature and the extent of social damage".

    For those crimes involving "extremely large sums of money," the suspects should be sentenced to death, but "if they confess or contribute to the handling of relevant cases, they should not get an immediate death penalty in principle," the court statement said.

    It said Chen's sentence was in line with the people's courts' "consistent penalty measurement and criminal policies".

    The court took former Governor of southwestern Yunnan Province Li Jiating, who had been sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve, as an example. Li had "accepted extremely huge amounts of bribes and committed serious crimes" but was not sentenced to immediate death because of his contribution in investigation, the court said.

    Corrupt officials, such as former vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress Cheng Kejie who was executed in September 2000, former vice governor of Anhui Province Wang Huaizhong who was given a lethal injection in February 2004, and former food and drug administration head Zheng Xiaoyu, executed in July 2007, got immediate death sentences because they "refused to plead guilty" and their bribe-taking "caused extremely serious social impact," it said.

    "Chen Tonghai's sentence is a result of people's court's criminal policies and reflects both severe punishment of corruption and the policy of tempering justice with mercy," it said.

    Chen has been expelled from the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the government and officially charged with corruption in January 2008.

    The CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the Ministry of Supervision announced the moves in a statement after a joint investigation on Chen, who was also the Sinopec Party chief, which began in June 2007.

    Chen had been accused of taking bribes to help others, including his mistress, make unlawful profits, and he also led a "corrupt life", according to the authorities.

    Born in 1948, Chen worked as mayor of Ningbo City, Zhejiang Province, and deputy commissioner of then State Planning Commission until 1998 when he became a deputy general manager of Sinopec. In 2003, he took over as general manager.

    All the charges against him dated from his arrival at Sinopec, one of the largest state companies in China, the authorities said.


    Chen has been the highest-level state enterprise leader controlling the largest-scale companies and committed serious crimes with the largest sum in recent years, the court said.

    "The handling of Chen's case sounded an alarm for the country's state-run company leaders," the court said, adding state enterprise reforms should be accelerated to improve supervision of power and "unearth corruption from the roots".

    The court said the sentence showed the Party and the government's determination to fight corruption. "For corrupt officials, no matter what power they have, what positions they hold, they will be seriously punished if they violate the law."

Editor: Li
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