BEIJING - A top Chinese military officer has been given a suspended death sentence for corruption, state media said Monday, in a case where he was exposed as owning dozens of homes, gold statues and luxury liquor.
Gu Junshan was also stripped of his rank of lieutenant general, the official Xinhua news agency reported, but there is little chance he will be executed as the suspended penalty is almost always converted into a life sentence after two years.
"Gu Junshan has been found guilty of corruption, accepting bribes, embezzlement of public funds, paying bribes and abuse of power," Xinhua said, citing a military court.
Gu was given a lighter sentence "after exposing other people's criminal acts", according to a question and answer session with an unnamed military court official posted on the website of the People's Liberation Army Daily, the military's official newspaper.
Gu was a protégé of Xu Caihou, the former vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, who confessed to bribery last year and was dismissed from the military with his rank revoked. Xu died of cancer in March this year.
Gu's trial was not public because the case contained national secrets, the official said. Journalists and diplomats are frequently barred from trials deemed sensitive by the authorities.
Gu, the former deputy director of the army's General Logistics Department, was first placed under investigation more than three years ago.
Last year widespread coverage of his opulent lifestyle in strictly controlled media indicated that authorities wanted to publicise his alleged misdeeds.
He owned dozens of apartments in central Beijing, and his mansion in Puyang in the central province of Henan housed several gold art pieces, the magazine Caixin reported at the time.
The Puyang home was modelled on the Forbidden City - the former imperial palace in Beijing - covered one hectare (2.5 acres) of land and was dubbed the "General's Mansion" by locals, the magazine said.
Officials seized "a gold boat, a gold wash basin and a gold statue of Mao Zedong" along with crates of expensive liquor from the premises, it added.
As an additional punishment the government confiscated all Gu's personal property, Xinhua said.
A commentary in the People's Daily newspaper, the official mouthpiece of the Communist Party, published at the time Gu was formally charged last year described him as a "worm who has eroded the Great Wall".
"The PLA's infinite glory was humiliated because of scum including Gu Junshan," the commentary said.
Since taking power in late 2012, President Xi Jinping has moved to ensure the ruling Communist Party's control over the military and loyalty in its ranks.
Xi, the son of a revered revolutionary, is said to have closer links to the military than his predecessor Hu Jintao.
He has launched a much-publicised drive to crack down on corruption, vowing to take on both senior "tigers" and low-level "flies". But critics say that no systemic reforms have been introduced to combat graft.