BEIJING, March 12 (Xinhua) -- China's court system concluded 45,000 graft cases in 2016, implicating 63,000 people, a work report of the Supreme People's Court (SPC) said Sunday.
The defendants included 35 former officials at the provincial and ministerial level or above, and 240 at the prefectural level, said the report delivered by Chief Justice Zhou Qiang at a plenary meeting of the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC).
Courts at all levels convicted 2,862 criminals of bribery, and concluded 15,000 cases involving corruption in poverty alleviation.
Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2012, China has launched a sweeping fight against corruption, which the top leadership announced late last year "has gained crushing momentum."
In 2016, procurators investigated 47,650 people for their suspected involvement in duty-related crimes, according to a work report of the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP), delivered by Procurator-General Cao Jianming at the plenary meeting.
Prosecution proceedings were launched against 48 former officials at the provincial and ministerial level or above, including Ling Jihua and Su Rong, both former vice chairmen of the country's top political advisory body, and Bai Enpei, a former senior lawmaker, the report said.
Bai was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve for taking a huge amount of bribes and holding excessive assets with unidentified sources.
In accordance with a provision in the ninth amendment to the Criminal Law adopted in 2015, the court also ruled that no further commutation or parole shall be permitted if Bai's death penalty was commuted to life imprisonment after the two-year reprieve.
This marked the first time the provision was applied in judicial practice.
The provision is a "deterrent" to corrupt officials, Zhang Yongjian, a chief judge with the SPC, said Sunday in an interview with Xinhua, which was live streamed on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
"The provision just tells them: don't do anything wrong. Once you are sentenced, you will stay behind bars till the end of your life, without any chance to get free," Zhang said.
The provision was later applied to Wei Pengyuan and Yu Tieyi, two other officials convicted of corruption.
This is a demonstration of the "crushing momentum," and the resolve of the Party and government to fight corruption, Zhang noted.
According to the SPP report, procurators also investigated 17,410 lower level officials suspected of corruption in land expropriation and demolition, social security, management of agriculture-related funds and other issues concerning people's well-being.
In addition, the SPP report highlighted progress in capturing fugitives abroad and recovering their ill-gotten assets.
Since China launched a campaign to hunt down fugitives implicated in duty-related crimes in October 2014, 164 suspects, including 27 listed in an Interpol red notice, have been repatriated or persuaded to return to China from 37 countries and regions, according to the report.
Both the SPC and SPP have vowed to continue cracking down on corruption-related crimes in 2017.
Anti-graft efforts will by no means weaken, and the zero-tolerance stance on corruption will not be changed, the SPP report said.