December 18, 2014 / 6:23 AM / in 3 years

China police chief who let off drunk son charged with graft

BEIJING (Reuters) - The former police chief of a Chinese city has been charged with corruption, state media said on Thursday, after he was sacked for allowing his son to be set free after attacking a policeman while drunk.

Li Yali was the top police officer in Taiyuan, 500 km (300 miles) southwest of Beijing, until last year, when footage of his son’s drunken violence went viral on the Internet.

Police stopped the son, Li Zhengyuan, on suspicion of driving while drunk in October 2012. He attacked one of the police officers who then walked him home instead of arresting him, state media said.

A Communist Party investigation found that Li Yali had abused his power while handling his son’s case, and he had been arrested and charged with accepting bribes, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

It gave no other details of the charges Li faces and it was not possible to reach him for comment.

Abuse of power, particularly by officials covering up the crimes of family members, strikes a particularly raw nerve in China due to widespread concern about how pervasive the problem is in a country with little concept of the rule of law.

President Xi Jinping has vowed to go after the corrupt and improve the legal system as he tries to restore faith in the ruling Communist Party after a slew of high-profile graft and abuse-of-power cases that have angered the public.

Separately, a court in Henan province sentenced a former housing administration official to 25 years in prison on Wednesday for embezzlement, bribery and abuse of power, Xinhua reported.

Zhai Zhenfeng, former director of the housing bureau in Erqi District in Zhengzhou, capital of Henan, was found guilty of embezzling 37 million yuan ($6 million) of public funds, Xinhua said, citing an Intermediate People’s Court.

Zhai accepted 70,000 yuan in bribes and offered 330,000 yuan to other officials, the court found.

The court ruled that Zhai’s 13 houses and 5.5 million yuan in illegal gains, which included the proceeds of selling other houses, should be seized, according to Xinhua.

The government this month announced the arrest of former public security chief Zhou Yongkang, one of China’s most powerful politicians of the last decade, on corruption and other charges.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard, additional reporting by Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Robert Birsel

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