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Former Chinese mayor 'Bulldozer Ji' given 15 years for graft

[BEIJING] The former mayor of the Chinese city of Nanjing was sentenced Tuesday to 15 years in jail for corruption, in the latest high-profile case under President Xi Jinping's much-touted anti-graft drive.

Ji Jianye was found guilty of taking 11.3 million yuan (S$2.47 million) in bribes from 1999 to 2012, the Yantai Intermediate People's Court said on its Sina Weibo microblog.

Authorities have also confiscated property worth two million yuan from the former mayor, who was nicknamed "Bulldozer Ji" for his relentless promotion of construction projects in his city.

"The court was lenient in meting out punishment, as Ji admitted his guilt and showed repentance," the court said in a statement posted on its microblog.

Photos posted by the court showed a remorseful-looking Ji, clad in a dark jacket and trousers, flanked by a tall police officer on either side.

The court is in the eastern province of Shandong, while Nanjing is the capital of neighbouring Jiangsu.

China typically holds corruption trials outside the area where alleged crimes took place, to separate accused officials from their local power bases.

Ji spent his entire political career in Jiangsu, heading the cities of Kunshan and Yangzhou before taking the Nanjing post in 2010.

He was expelled from the Communist Party in January last year, when authorities claimed he had "received a huge amount of money and gifts either by himself or through his family members".

State media linked his downfall to construction project awards to a company with which he had close ties.

Ji's trial underscores the vast amounts of ill-gotten wealth amassed by some Chinese officials, although his case is far from the most sensational to come to light under Xi's anti-corruption campaign.

In February, Ni Fake, a former deputy governor of the eastern province of Anhui, was sentenced to 17 years in jail for taking around 13 million yuan in bribes in cash, artefacts and precious stones.

The ruling Communist Party's top anti-graft body said Ni was "obsessed with collecting jade" and had appointed himself honorary chairman of the provincial jewellery industry association, according to an earlier report by the state-run Shanghai Daily newspaper.

Mr Xi's anti-graft campaign has ensnared a number of senior figures including Zhou Yongkang, a former member of China's all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee who was charged last week with bribery, abuse of power and disclosing state secrets.

But critics say the Communist Party has resisted introducing systemic reforms seen as key measures against graft, such as publishing officials' assets, relaxing controls on media and establishing an independent judiciary, leaving the drive open to misuse in faction-fighting.

AFP