China probes graft charges against former Tianjin mayor


Chinese judicial officials have launched an investigation into bribery allegations against a former mayor of the northern city of Tianjin, whose time in office saw a deadly warehouse explosion.
In a brief statement on Sunday, the state prosecutor’s office said it has formally started the legal proceedings against Huang Xingguo, as ordered by the country’s ruling Communist Party back in September 2016.
The state prosecutor has also approved “coercive measures,” a Chinese legal term that generally means detention, added the statement, without elaborating.
Huang had served as the mayor as well as acting head of the Communist Party in Tianjin, China’s northern financial hub. He stands accused of accepting gifts, buying support and providing jobs for his family and friends.
The statement makes no mention of the August 2015 warehouse blast, which left some 173 people dead and damaged hundreds of buildings in Tianjin.
In this photo taken on August 14, 2015, Chinese men walk through the site of an explosion at a warehouse in northeastern China’s Tianjin municipality. (By AP)
However, other officials in the city have faced charges of accepting bribes to ignore safety violations, which had been behind the explosion.
Last September, Huang was removed from his post as Tianjin mayor. He was also expelled from the ruling party.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has launched a campaign against corruption in state institutions since he assumed power in 2013. Several officials have faced graft probes or been placed behind bars over such charges.
Late last month, the Communist Party said it had expelled Ma Jian, a former vice-minister of the Ministry of State Security, who faces charges of taking bribes and using his position to benefit his relatives.
Earlier in 2016, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate revealed in a statement that five senior officials had been accused of accepting bribes in exchange for benefits.
All five were later dismissed from their posts and expelled from the party.—Xinhua

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