09/05/2014, 00.00
CHINA
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Beijing to put Zhou Yongkang's associates on (public) trial

Sources say public proceedings would be carried out "one by one" ahead of the trial of the former national security chief. Top officials will be tried first, followed by business tycoons. Charged with graft, General Gu will also be in the dock.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - Mainland authorities are ready to try a group of officials and businesspeople connected with former national security chief Zhou Yongkang, who fell from grace after Xi Jinping came to power, this according to sources familiar with the situation that spoke to the South China Morning Post.

The proceedings could start as early as next month and would be carried out one by one, they said. If charged, Zhou could become the highest-ranking party official to face trial for economic crimes since China came under Communist rule.

Zhou will first be ousted from the Communist Party. This will probably take place after a leadership meeting in October. Then, his case will be transferred to judicial authorities to prepare for a public hearing.

Zhou's trial could be handled in a format similar to that of Bo Xilai, a political ally of Zhou and the former party chief of Chongqing.

The corruption investigation into Zhou, a former Politburo Standing Committee member, was only announced on 29 July, but many officials and businesspeople linked to him were detained and questioned as early as late 2012.

Former Sichuan Vice-Governor Guo Yongxiang, former chief regulator of state-owned enterprises Jiang Jiemin, former deputy public security minister Li Dongsheng, and tycoons connected to Zhou could face trial soon, the sources said.

Another unrelated trial involves the former deputy logistics chief of the People's Liberation Army Gu Junshan who allegedly took 6 per cent cut on land sales he handled, accumulating a fortune of hundreds of millions from graft.

As a rule, cases involving senior military officers are handled by military courts, but according to the sources, this time China's leaders want to send a strong signal given the official's high profile.

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