China Executes Top Official for Graft

ByABC News
September 14, 2000, 2:06 PM

B E I J I N G, Sept. 14 -- China announced the execution of a senior parliament leader, the highest communist official to be put to death since the founding of the Peoples Republic in 1949.

Cheng Kejie, the former vice chairman of the National Peoples Congress Standing Committee, the body which runs parliament, was executed today probably with a bullet to the back of the head, Chinas most common form of carrying out death sentences.

He was convicted in July of taking $5 million in bribes, and executed after the Supreme Peoples Court approved his death sentence on Sept. 7.

The Supreme Peoples court rejected Chengs appeal from a Beijing appellate court on Aug. 22. Last July 31, a Beijing intermediate court found him guilty of taking large bribes and sentenced him to death.

There is no place for corrupt elements to hide in the party, the state news agency Xinhua said, quoting a commentary piece to be published in the Peoples Daily the Communist Party newspaper.

The article reminds readers that all citizens are equal before the law.

As one of 19 vice chairmen of the Standing Committee of the National Peoples Congress, Cheng was close to parliamentary chief Li Peng, the second-ranking figure in Chinas hierarchy.

State television showed unprecedented footage of Cheng, in a blue suit and collarless shirt, looking tense and at times bewildered as he answered prosecutors questions and admitted a string of economic crimes during his July trial.

Collaboration With His Lover

Cheng was executed after the Supreme Peoples Court approved his death sentence for taking bribes in collaboration with his lover Li Ping, Xinhua reported.

Li, in her 40s, was sentenced to life imprisonment last month for helping Cheng, 67, accumulate illegal wealth when he was government chief of the impoverished southwestern region of Guangxi, a hotbed of smugglers and drug dealers.