Brother Watch' given 14 years' jail

Brother Watch' given 14 years' jail
Yang Dacai (C), a Chinese official branded "Brother Watch" because of his expensive taste in timepieces, stands in the courtroom.

BEIJING - A Chinese official branded "Brother Watch" because of his expensive taste in time- pieces was sentenced to 14 years in jail for corruption, lamenting his fall into the "abyss of crime", reports said.

Yang Dacai first came under scrutiny from Chinese Internet users after he was pictured grinning broadly as he assessed the twisted wreckage of a bus and a methanol tanker, following an accident which left 36 people dead last year.

The former work safety boss in the northern province of Shaanxi was later derided online after images of him wearing various luxury brand watches were tracked down and circulated.

"I worked for several decades, before finally taking the road to crime," he told the Intermediate People's Court in Xi'an, Shaanxi's provincial capital, according to state news agency Xinhua.

"It is useless to repent after falling into the abyss of crime, but I sincerely want to confess and regret the crime I committed, and beg the court to give me a brand-new start in life," he added.

The sentence was imposed yesterday following a one-day trial last week, in which Yang was accused of having property worth 5.04 million yuan (S$1.1 million) from unexplained sources and accepting 250,000 yuan (S$52,000) in bribes, state broadcaster CCTV said.

The 5.04 million yuan "probably" represented "presents from junior officials and old school friends during festivals", Yang said previously, according to domestic reports. He did not object to the charges and was also fined 50,000 yuan.

"The court ordered confiscation of the 250,000 yuan in bribes he took and over 5 million yuan of property he failed to account for," Xinhua added.

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