Suspended death sentence to China’s ex-rail minister

A Chinese court has given former Railways Minister Liu Zhijun a suspended death sentence for corruption and abuse of power, state media report.

Liu was accused of accepting bribes totaling over 64m Yuan ($10m; £6m) over 25 years.

Prosecutors said he awarded government rail contracts in return for bribes.

Liu is the most high-profile official to be tried and found guilty of corruption since Xi Jinping became China’s leader earlier this year.

Mr Xi has called for a crackdown on corruption, vowing to tackle it from the powerful “tigers” at the top to the “flies” at the bottom of the Communist Party.

China’s railways ministry, once a powerful department, was disbanded in March.

It had been criticized for a series of safety scandals, and faced allegations of fraud which were uncovered by government audits.

Liu was convicted by a court in the capital Beijing on Monday, state-run Xinhua news agency said.

He was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve, deprived of his political rights for life and jailed for 10 years, Xinhua said, quoting the court verdict. His personal property will also be confiscated.

Despite his sentence, he is not expected to face the death penalty – suspended death sentences are normally commuted to life imprisonment in China.