THE former mayor of the affluent southern Chinese boomtown of Shenzhen received a suspended death sentence on Monday for taking bribes, state media reported, two years after he was sacked.
The 2009 arrest of Xu Zongheng, a former car technician who had served as Shenzhen's mayor since 2005, was part of a broader corruption investigation in Guangdong province, which was seen by analysts as an attempt by Beijing to bring the free-wheeling southern economic powerhouse under tighter control.
The court, in the central province of Henan, found that Xu, 56, took more than 33.2 million yuan (S$6.3 million) in bribes from building material companies and lower-ranking officials between 2001 and 2009, the official Xinhua news agency said.
'A court verdict said Xu had abused his power and sought profits by helping nine units or individuals change land development plans, win construction project contracts or seek promotion,' the report added.
Xu's death sentence was suspended for two years because he had confessed to his crimes, Xinhua said. In China, a death penalty suspended for two years is usually commuted to life in prison.
Xu is one of the most senior Chinese officials to be ousted since Shanghai's Communist Party chief Chen Liangyu was jailed for corruption in 2008.
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