China's top prosecutor, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, is to step up the fight against corruption among officials this year by setting up a super anti-graft bureau, according to a senior official. The plan for the bureau has been approved by the central government, Procurator-General Cao Jianming said in an interview with China Daily.
It will cope with the rising number of officials facing corruption charges. More suspect officials are expected to be brought to trial as the nationwide anti-graft campaign, started by President Xi Jinping in November 2012, continues.
Zhao Hongzhu, deputy head of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, said recently that more than half of government offices and public institutions are still to be visited by disciplinary investigators.
Initially, corruption suspects will be investigated by the commission before their cases, if considered to be of criminal severity, are passed to procuratorates.
The new bureau will be staffed by several dozen experienced senior prosecutors and will strengthen the Supreme People's Procuratorate's anti-corruption capability greatly, officials from the procuratorate said. Senior prosecutors are appointed by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.
The bureau will merge with three existing bodies - the Anti-Corruption and Anti-Bribery Bureau, the Prevention of Duty-Related Crimes Department and the Investigation of Dereliction of Duty and Power Abuse Department.
It will be established at vice-ministerial level, a higher level than a regular bureau, according to officials from the Supreme People's Procuratorate.
The bureau will also have a large database and an improved filing system, according to the officials, who said it may take several months to hammer out the details before it can be set up.
Last year, the national prosecutor launched investigations into 28 high-ranking officials facing corruption charges.
Cao said it is now directly investigating seven cases, including that of Zhou Yongkang, the former security chief.
Investigation of the 21 other cases is being handled by provincial-level prosecution authorities.
Apart from these 28 cases, 35 officials are still being investigated by the commission for suspected disciplinary violations, including Ling Jihua, former vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, who formerly managed the day-to-day affairs of China's presidential office.
Cao declined to comment on when Zhou will stand trial or whether Ling will face criminal charges.
The Supreme People's Procuratorate is also responsible for co-operation between China and other countries in combating corruption.
Since October, China has brought back 49 suspects accused of duty-related crimes from 17 countries and regions.