Ex-judge facing China bribery charges kills self

AP News
Posted: Nov 30, 2009 2:36 AM

An ex-judge charged with taking bribes from gangsters committed suicide in his cell over the weekend in central China, a local government spokesman said Monday.

Wu Xiaoqing, 57, hanged himself in his cell Saturday using the drawstring from his underwear five months following his arrest for corruption, said the spokesman, surnamed Li, for the Chongqing city government office. Like many officials in China, Li would give only his surname.

Wu, who was the ex-director of the enforcement bureau of the local municipal court, was arrested in June on suspicion of taking in more than half a million dollars in bribes from gang members from 1998 to 2008, the China Daily newspaper reported. He was fired after his arrest.

Wu's arrest was part of a continuing crackdown on anti-corruption in sprawling Chongqing that has netted some 1,500 suspects _ gangsters, prominent businessmen and 14 high-ranking government and police officials. Six gang members in the city have been sentenced to death for crimes including murder and blackmail.

Li said Wu was able to hang himself in a blind spot away from security cameras.

The China Daily reported that two police officers from the No. 2 Detention Center are under investigation in connection with Wu's death.

China has a mixed record of cracking down on corruption, but when it does the punishments are often severe. Two years ago, the director of China's food and drug agency was executed for approving deadly fake medicine in exchange for cash.

The most senior official to fall recently to corruption charges was Shanghai's former Communist Party chief Chen Liangyu, who was sentenced last year to 18 years in prison for his role in a pension fund scandal.

(This version CORRECTS Corrects grammar to 'hanged' in graf 2)