Xi critic jailed for cor­rup­tion

His out­spo­ken­ness had earned the former chair­man of state-owned prop­erty de­vel­oper Huayuan Group the nick­name Big Can­non

Daily Tribune (Philippines) - - WORLD -

BEIJING (AFP) — A Chi­nese ty­coon who called Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping a clown and crit­i­cized his han­dling of the coro­n­avirus out­break was jailed for 18 years on Tues­day for cor­rup­tion, bribery and em­bez­zle­ment of pub­lic funds.

Ren Zhiqiang — once among the rul­ing Com­mu­nist Party’s in­ner cir­cle — dis­ap­peared from the pub­lic eye in March, shortly af­ter pen­ning an es­say that lam­basted Xi’s pan­demic re­sponse.

His out­spo­ken­ness had earned the former chair­man of state-owned prop­erty de­vel­oper Huayuan Group the nick­name “Big Can­non.”

Tues­day’s ver­dict said Ren em­bez­zled al­most 50 mil­lion yuan ($7.4 mil­lion) of pub­lic funds and ac­cepted bribes worth 1.25 mil­lion yuan, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment from the Beijing No. 2 In­ter­me­di­ate Peo­ple’s Court.

Rights cam­paign­ers ac­cuse Xi and the Com­mu­nist Party of us­ing cor­rup­tion charges to si­lence dis­sent.

It said the 69-year-old “vol­un­tar­ily and truth­fully con­fessed all his crimes,” and would not ap­peal the court’s de­ci­sion.

He was also fined 4.2 mil­lion yuan ($620,000).

Rights cam­paign­ers ac­cuse Xi and the Com­mu­nist Party of us­ing cor­rup­tion charges to si­lence dis­sent.

Beijing has stepped up its crack­down on civil so­ci­ety since Xi took power in 2012, tight­en­ing restrictio­ns on free­dom of speech and de­tain­ing hun­dreds of ac­tivists and lawyers.

Tues­day’s ver­dict claimed that Ren also “abused his power” in his role at Huayuan Group, which caused more than 116 mil­lion yuan of losses to the state-owned hold­ing com­pany and more than 53 mil­lion yuan worth of prop­erty losses for the group.

The Com­mu­nist Party’s dis­ci­plinary watch­dog launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Ren in April, and the trial opened at a Beijing court on 11 Septem­ber with a hand­ful of sup­port­ers out­side and a heavy po­lice pres­ence.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.