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Chinese general sentenced to life for stealing £8.6million

Guo Boxiong, 74, was a vice chairman of the Central Military Commission until he stepped down in 2012

A former top military general has been jailed for life for corruption in China, the latest in President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption drive in the armed forces.

Guo Boxiong, 74, was a vice chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission and used his position to seek promotions for others and of accepting bribes. He stepped down in 2012. 

Last year, the government said it would prosecute him for graft and stripped him of his rank of general.

The official Xinhua news agency said in a report also carried on the Defence Ministry website all of Guo's 'illicit money and materials' had been confiscated and turned over to the state.

President Xi Jinping has led a major anti-corruption campaign since taking office nearly four years ago.

Hundreds of thousands of officials have been disciplined as part of the drive. 

Guo's case was held behind closed doors as it involved military secrets, Xinhua said without elaborating.

But sources told the South China Morning Post in April that Guo was prosecuted for accepting bribes worth $12.3m (£8.6m).  

As the commission's first-ranking vice chairman, Guo was responsible over a decade for the daily operations of the 2.3 million-member People's Liberation Army, the world's largest standing military. 

During that time, the military enjoyed large annual budget increases, fueling competition for potentially lucrative control over funds, units and support functions such as construction.   

Some top generals are reported to have accumulated stunning fortunes through corruption in both cash and gifts, including golden statues of Mao Zedong and cases of expensive liquor stacked to the ceiling in secret underground caches.  

The news agency said he abused his position to help others with promotions and took 'massive' bribes, either on his own or in connivance with others.

Guo admitted to his crimes, expressed regret and accepted the judgment. He would not appeal, Xinhua said.

A commentary carried on the Defence Ministry's website said the fight against graft was a 'life and death' struggle for the military.

'Corruption is the greatest threat our party faces, and is the top killer of the military's fighting ability,' it said.
Guo's son, a major general, Guo Zhenggang, was also under investigation last year.

It has not been possible to reach either Guo for comment and it is not clear who their lawyers are.

His case follows that of Xu Caihou, who was a Central Military Commission vice chairman at the same time as Guo, and died of cancer last year.

Before their retirement, the men had been two of China's top military officers who served together under Xi's predecessor, Hu Jintao. 

Xi was also a vice chairman with Guo and Xu from 2010-2012, before he became head of the party and military commission chief.

 

Sources have told Reuters that Guo is also suffering from cancer and the military had faced a quandary over whether to put him on trial, in case he died before reaching court, like Xu.