Former Wuhan official charged with corruption

An aerial view of an almost empty street in Wuhan, China. A former senior official in the epicentre of the new coronavirus outbreak in China has been charged with corruption.
PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING - A former senior official in the epicentre of the new coronavirus outbreak in China has been charged with corruption, prosecutors said on Wednesday (March 11).

Cai Jie was secretary general of the Communist Party municipal committee in Wuhan city before being sacked in February, part of a slew of sackings among party officials in Hubei province.

The virus - which emerged in the provincial capital Wuhan in December last year - has now killed more than 3,100 people in China.

China's top prosecutor, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, said in a statement that Cai had been arrested on charges of taking bribes and abuse of power.

He was removed from his post in late February.

Provincial disciplinary officials said at the time he was removed that he had taken "advantage of his position to seek benefits for others and illegally procured huge amounts of funds and property."

It also said he was accused of illegally allocating government funds to private companies.

Last month a number of top political leaders of the virus-stricken province were culled, as criticism swirled over the way the outbreak had been being handled.

Jiang Chaoliang, Hubei's party secretary, was replaced by Shanghai mayor Ying Yong, while Wuhan party chief Ma Guoqiang was axed.

Hubei's two most senior health officials were also fired, while a top Red Cross official in Wuhan was sacked for dereliction of duty.

Pressure on local officials for their perceived incompetence mounted after the death of a Chinese doctor who was punished by Wuhan authorities for raising the alarm about the new virus.

Wuhan authorities also faced criticism for going ahead with an annual public banquet for 40,000 families just days before the city was placed on lockdown.

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