A Chinese court on Monday sentenced one of China’s most senior Uygur officials to life in prison for taking bribes, state media reported.
Shenyang Intermediate People’s Court in the northeastern province of Liaoning handed down the sentence to Nur Bekri, a former director of the National Energy Administration, on Monday and ordered the confiscation of all of his personal properties.
According to state news agency Xinhua, Bekri admitted accepting more than 79 million yuan (US$11.2 million) in bribes between 1998 and 2018.
The 58-year-old said that he would not appeal the sentence.
Bekri had been the governor of Xinjiang, before being promoted to become a vice-chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission in Beijing in 2014.
Four years later, he was made head of the National Energy Administration and given a ministerial rank.
But later that year he was sacked and placed under investigation for corruption. He was expelled from the Communist Party in March this year – a sign that he would soon go on trial.
Xinhua described Bekri’s sentence as “lenient” because he had confessed to crimes that prosecutors had not known about and volunteered to return some of his ill-gotten gains.
State media has previously accused him of engaging in “family-style corruption”, illegally accepting bribes directly or through his relatives.
He was previously described as “greedy and corrupt” by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, China’s top anti-corruption agency, for soliciting luxury cars for his relatives, taking part in opulent banquets and accepting expensive gifts from those who sought favours.
He was also accused of indulging in a “lavish lifestyle” in violation of Communist Party’s rules and principles, as well as trading power for sex.
Bekri was one of the country’s youngest ethnic Uygur officials to attain high rank when he was named chairman of the Xinjiang autonomous region in 2008.
A year after his appointment, deadly clashes broke out in Urumqi, the region’s capital, between ethnic Han and Uygur groups, resulting in 197 deaths, according to official reports.
During the resulting crackdown Bekri accused Ilham Tohti, a former professor at Beijing’s Minzu University, of “colluding with overseas separatists” as well as “preaching separation and even advocating subversion”.
Tohti was jailed for life in 2014 on a charge of “inciting separatism”.
Bekri was viewed as a rising political star after his promotion to a central government role in 2014, but his failure to appear at the National Party Congress in 2018 was the first hint that he was in trouble.
In recent years Xinjiang has witnessed a draconian crackdown in the name of combating terrorism and separatism.
Rights groups have accused the authorities of detaining up to a million Uygurs and other Muslim minorities in re-education camps.
The region has also been subject to a widespread anti-corruption campaign that began soon after Bekri left his post in the region.
As part of the campaign, dozens of senior officials were sacked, including Bekri’s chief of staff Alimjan Mehmet Emin, and his deputy land chief Li Jianxin.
This article Chinese court jails senior ethnic Uygur official for life on corruption charges first appeared on South China Morning Post