Beijing: An alleged mistress of a disgraced former Chinese railway official has been sentenced to five years in jail for aiding and abetting his corrupt practices as China's anti-corruption drive targeted close relatives and associates of people involved in graft.
Luo Fei, the mistress of Zhang Shuguang, former deputy chief engineer of the transport bureau under the ministry of railways, was sentenced to five years in prison for bribery, state-run Beijing Legal Evening News reported yesterday.
Beijing No 2 Intermediate People's Court said that Luo helped Zhang accept and hide at least 1.98 million yuan (USD 322,000) in bribes.
Luo pleaded guilty at a trial in November 2013, according to the report.
Luo, who was a singer in a railway arts group, did not appeal to a higher court after the judgment was announced, the report said.
Zhang, 57, was sentenced on October 17 to death with a two-year reprieve for taking 45.55 million yuan in bribes. He was the second high-ranking railway official charged with graft.
Zhang, was regarded as the right-hand man of Liu Zhijun, the former railways minister, who was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve in July 2013 for accepting 64.6 million yuan (about USD 10 million) in bribes and for abuse of power.
Zhang confessed when his case was heard in September 2013 that he gave Luo a job with a monthly salary of 16,000 yuan plus a car and watches, the court added.
Chinese prosecutors said hundreds of officials including some of the top military and political officials were punished and being prosecuted for corruption all over the country since President Xi Jinping took over power last year.
Yi Shenghua, a criminal lawyer in Beijing, said it is rare to see the mistress of such a high-level former official receive criminal punishment, but Luo's case may set a precedent.
In the past, the involvement of officials' mistresses in corruption cases was seldom disclosed, and most mistresses were simply ordered to pay back the illicit money, Yi told state run China Daily.
"But now, I strongly feel that our country's efforts and crackdowns target corruption. We not only fight corrupt officials, but also those involved with them in their cases," he said.
Yang Weidong, a law professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance, echoed Yi's sentiments, saying Luo's punishment is in accordance with the revised Chinese Criminal Law.
Previously, only government officers could be charged with crimes by taking advantage of their duties or work position, such as corruption and bribery, but under the current law, people closer to these officials or involved in graft cases can be also charged with the duty crimes, Yang said.