TIANJIN, July 4 (Xinhua) -- Former deputy head of China's national political advisory body Ling Jihua was sentenced to life imprisonment on Monday for taking bribes, illegally obtaining state secrets and abuse of power.
Ling accepted bribes totalling over 77.08 million yuan (11.6 million U.S. dollars) personally and through his family, according to the first-instance ruling by the First Intermediate People's Court of Tianjin.
He pled guilty and decided not to appeal, the court said. Ling was also deprived of his political rights for life and had his personal assets confiscated.
Ling was vice chairman of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and head of the United Front Work Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, before an announcement at the end of 2014 that he was under investigation.
"I accept all the charges and submit to the judgement," Ling said in his final statement. "Today's trial will be engraved in my memory."
He said the trial was "solemn, meticulous, rational and civilized," embodying a combination of rule of law and humanitarian treatment.
"I sincerely thank the court, the procuratorate and [my] two attorneys," Ling said.
The court ruled that Ling took particularly huge amount of bribes, committed serious crime in illegally obtaining a large number of state secrets, and committed particularly serious crime in the abuse of power, which produced a particularly bad impact on society.
The court said that Ling confessed, pled guilty and repented, which constitute "legal and discretionary grounds for lesser punishment."
TAKING BRIBES, ILLEGALLY OBTAINING STATE SECRETS, ABUSE OF POWER
During the trial on June 7, the court summoned as witnesses Lou Zhongfu and Cui Xiaoyu, who testified that they asked Ling to help them seek benefits and offered bribes to Ling or his wife, Gu Liping.
The prosecutors and defenders questioned the witnesses. The procuratorate played video testimonies by Gu and Pan Yiyang, another of those who offered Ling bribes, and used a multimedia system to display witnesses' testimonies, documentary evidence, pictures and expert testimonies related to each count against Ling. Together with the confession from the defendent himself, the chain of evidence was complete.
The evidence proved that Ling, taking advantage of his positions, had sought or promised to seek profits or promotion opportunities for people including Lou and his son, Cui, Pan, Wei Xin, Li Chuncheng, Bai Enpei and Huo Ke. He had extorted or accepted bribes personally or through his wife, or knowingly allowed his wife and his son, Ling Gu, to accept or extort bribes from those people.
While serving as head of the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee and deputy head of the CPPCC, Ling illegally obtained a large amount of classified materials through Huo Ke, the then head of the secretariat of the CPC Central Committee's General Office, and others, which seriously compromised the country's secrecy system.
Evidence including witness statements, confidentiality rules and expert opinions were presented in court, along with Ling's statement.
Ling also abused his power to assist two persons named in court only as Chen and Zhang, as well as their relatives, with job transfers, house purchase, promotion, and change of residential status, resulting in substantial losses in terms of public property and national interests.
Witness statements, house purchase agreements and other documents were presented as evidence, along with Ling's statement.
FULL PROTECTION OF LING'S LEGAL RIGHTS
The court carried out a closed trial as state secrets were involved.
Prior to the trial, on May 13, the first branch of the Tianjin Municipal People's Procuratorate filed Ling's case to the First Intermediate People's Court of Tianjin.
The latter sent a copy of the indictment to Ling and informed the defendant of his litigation rights and obligations before the trial. The two lawyers hired by Ling had met with him many times and reviewed all the case files.
The court also held a pretrial meeting of prosecutors, the defendant and his defenders to hear their opinions on several issues and present evidence from both sides.
Judicial organs fully protected Ling and his legal team's litigation rights while handling the case, the court said in a statement.