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Reformist Chinese judge, facing graft claims, sacked

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has sacked a judge from its top court who built an image as a reformer but now faces claims of corruption, local media reported on Tuesday.

Huang Songyou, a vice president of the Supreme People’s Court, was dismissed from his post by the National People’s Congress, the country’s rubber-stamp parliament, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

That brief report did not say why Huang, in his early fifties, was sacked.

But the website of Caijing magazine (www.caijing.com.cn), a journal that has often broken news of corruption cases, reported that he was facing an investigation for “abusing power for private gain, grave economic problems and a corrupt lifestyle.”

The magazine said his downfall appeared to be linked to an investigation into Yang Xiancai, a senior judge in south China’s Guangdong province, who also faces a corruption inquiry.

Huang’s downfall is especially jarring after he developed a reputation as a judge willing to tweak, if not overturn, the ruling Communist Party’s traditional grip on the courts.

Under the Party, the state Constitution serves as a political manifesto and not a supreme law applied by the courts. But in 2001, Huang pressed through a ground-breaking decision allowing a student to cite the Constitution in a case over schooling rights.

The case got nowhere, but Huang’s decision stands as a rare step towards yolking Chinese state power to the law.

Reporting by Chris Buckley; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani

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