BEIJING -- The former governor of China’s tense northwestern region of Xinjiang was sentenced Monday to life in prison on charges of taking bribes, becoming one of the highest-profile ethnic minority politicians to fall in an ongoing anti-corruption campaign.
Nur Bekri had been among China’s most politically successful members of the Turkic Muslim Uighur (WEE-gur) ethnic minority, more than 1 million of whom have been detained in political re-education camps in recent years.
State media reports said Bekri was sentenced Monday and showed pictures of him standing in the dock.
A statement on the official microblog of the People’s Highest Court said Bekri had been sentenced by the Intermediate People’s Court in the northeastern city of Shenyang and had stated he would not appeal.
It said Bekri had accepted 79.1 million yuan ($11.23 million) in bribes while serving in his various positions between 1998 and 2018 in return for helping companies and individuals obtain government contracts, promoting their products or offering other illicit services.
Bekri has also served as head of the National Energy Administration planning agency.
President and head of the ruling Communist Party Xi Jinping has waged a years-long campaign against corruption in the party and government. Critics say it has allowed him to eliminate political rivals as well as root out near-endemic graft.
There was no immediate sign of a connection between Bekri’s downfall and what China calls a campaign to end poverty, separatism and religious extremism among Muslims by confining them to what it calls vocational training centers. Numerous well-known Uighur academics, politicians and cultural figures have become ensnared in what critics abroad have called an attempt to stamp out resource-rich Xinjiang’s native Islamic culture, language and religion.
Bekri’s detention was first announced in September 2018, four years after he transferred to the National Energy Administration and while he was serving concurrently as deputy chairman of the Cabinet's economic planning agency, and the National Development and Reform Commission.