BEIJING, June 9 China's former railways
minister, Liu Zhijun, went on trial on Sunday charged with
corruption and abuse of power, state media said, in a case which
will demonstrate newly installed President Xi Jinping's resolve
to crack down on pervasive graft.
State radio said the trial had begun at a Beijing courthouse
under heavy security. It provided no details.
The trial may be over quite quickly, judging by similar
graft cases in the past, and the verdict should come out within
the next two weeks or so.
Liu was formally charged in April with abuse of power,
taking bribes and malpractice, according to previous reports by
Liu took bribes and misused his position to help the
chairman of an investment company get illegal profits, according
to previous accusations levelled by state media.
In January, Xi said anti-corruption efforts should target
low-ranking "flies" as well as powerful "tigers".
But the effort has netted only a few high-ranking violators
so far, among them Sichuan province deputy Communist Party boss
Li Chuncheng and reportedly Politburo member Li Jianguo, both
for "serious" disciplinary issues.
China's railway system has faced numerous problems over the
past few years, including heavy debts from funding new
high-speed lines, waste and fraud.
The government has pledged to open the rail industry to
private investment on an unprecedented scale.
The ministry suffered a big blow to its image when a crash
in 2011 between two high-speed trains killed 40 people.
Liu was sacked in February last year and later expelled from
the Communist Party. He had successfully resisted a merger with
the Ministry of Transport six years ago, but the government
announced in March that the two ministries would be merged.
While Liu's case attracted much attention when it first
broke, it has been overshadowed by the much more sensational
case of the former party chief of Chongqing, the ambitious Bo
Bo's downfall last year amid lurid accusations of murder and
diplomatic intrigue caused division and uncertainty as the party
prepared a transfer of power to a new generation of leaders.
The government has yet to announce a trial date for Bo, or
what charges he will face.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Ron Popeski)