China's ex-train boss charged in bribery case

AP News
Posted: Apr 10, 2013 2:05 AM

BEIJING (AP) — The ex-railways minister who led the rapid expansion of China's bullet train network has been charged with taking bribes and abusing his power in one of China's biggest graft investigations.

A court press office official said they had received the lawsuit against Liu Zhijun from prosecutors on Wednesday morning. "The date of the trial will be released in due time," said the official at the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People's Court, who refused to give his name, as is common with Chinese officials.

Liu was appointed railways minister in 2003 and dismissed in February 2011 for unspecified discipline violations.

News reports suggested charges against him might include taking kickbacks and bribes, illegally awarding contracts and engaging in sexual liaisons.

Liu led the rapid growth of China's bullet train network, which has become the world's biggest. Following his firing and a fatal crash in July 2011 that killed some 40 people, the government scaled back ambitious expansion plans.

Even before the 2011 disaster, the bullet train was a target of critics who said it was dangerously fast and too expensive for a society where the poor majority need more low-cost transportation, not record-setting speeds.