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Chongqing ex-official gets 13 yrs

By Luo Wangshu in Chongqing and Cao Yin in Beijing | China Daily | Updated: 2013-06-29 07:17

Lei Zhengfu took bribes totaling 3.16m yuan to halt blackmail plan

A former official and a woman in Chongqing, who appeared in an online sex video and caused a scandal, were sentenced on Friday, almost six months after the incident came to light.

Chongqing ex-official gets 13 yrs

Lei Zhengfu, a former official of Chongqing's Beibei district, stands trial on June 19 in a court in the city. [Photo/Xinhua] 

Lei Zhengfu, 55, the former Party secretary of Chongqing's Beibei district, was sentenced to 13 years in prison for taking bribes of more than 3.16 million yuan ($514,000), according to the city's No 1 Intermediate People's Court.

Lei, who appeared subdued, slowly stumbled into the court escorted by two police officers at about 11 am.

Lei took bribes in an attempt to halt a blackmail plan by six people, including Zhao Hongxia, the woman in the video, the verdict said. But the video was still posted online in November.

After the video surfaced, Lei was removed from his post and detained on Feb 1. He was expelled from the Party in May.

Lei was told to surrender the illicit money within one month.

He said at the end of the trial that he will discuss with his lawyer whether to appeal to a higher court.

About three hours after Lei's sentencing, Zhao was given a two-year suspended sentence for blackmail by a court in the city's Yubei district.

Zhao did not make eye contact with anyone in the courtroom during the 25-minute sentencing announcement. She bent her head and put her hands on her mouth at the end.

Her attorney, Zhang Zhiyong, said they will not appeal.

Xiao Ye, Xu Sheqing, Yan Peng, Tan Linling and Wang Jianjun were also sentenced for the same crime.

The six defendants blackmailed Lei in February 2008, for 3 million yuan, saying if the former official could not pay, they would post the video.

Xiao, ringleader in the blackmail case, got a 10-year jail sentence, the heaviest punishment among the six.

Three of them, including Xiao, said they will appeal their sentences.

Wu Ming'an, a criminal law professor at the China University of Political Science and Law, said the sentences for Lei and Zhao were reasonable under the Chinese Criminal Law.

"The 13-year sentence for Lei was in accord with the money involved, but considering the case's great negative social effect, his punishment was not heavy enough," he added.

Yang Xiaojun, a law expert at the Chinese Academy of Governance, agreed, saying the sentence for Lei will be a warning for other officials and set a precedent for similar cases.

"The greatest importance of the two judgments doesn't lie in the punishments. Instead, it reminds other officials that taking bribes won't be an excuse to escape sentences, even if someone commits blackmail," he said.

Tan Yingzi contributed to this story.


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