China’s former railways minister has gone on trial for bribery and abuse of power.
Liu Zhijun was fired from his post in 2011 for unspecified “severe violations” of discipline. State media had previously accused him of taking large bribes and illegally awarding contracts to associates.
Lui is the first government minister in China to be prosecuted for corruption. His trial opened Sunday in Beijing, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
Over the past 24 hours, according to the Atlantic, China chat sites have been reporting that “prosecutors advised that Liu be given a ‘lenient sentence,’ despite his admitted accumulation of 374 houses and over US $100 million.”
A post that asked “‘how heaven could accept leniency’ toward Liu was re-tweeted over 120,000 times, with almost unanimous opposition to leniency in Liu’s case,” the Atlantic reported.
Known as “Great Leap Liu,” he led the expansion of China’s bullet train network, which is now the world’s largest. The hugely expensive project has been plagued by debt problems and criticized for sacrificing safety for the sake of speed.
Two high-speed trains collided in 2011 in the eastern city of Wenzhou, killing 40 people.
Last month, China said it was dismantling and separating the duties of the railway ministry, which had faced corruption allegations and been burdened with massive amounts of debt.
With additional reporting from voanews.com