Aide to China’s former leader gets life in prison for bribes

A former top presidential aide and consummate Chinese political insider was sentenced Monday to life in prison for taking bribes, illegally obtaining state secrets and abusing powers in a downfall set off by an alleged cover-up of his son’s death in a speeding Ferrari.

A court in the northern port city of Tianjin delivered the verdict against Ling Jihua nearly one month after the trial, which was held behind closed doors because the case involved state secrets, the official Xinhua News Agency said. He told the court he would not appeal, Xinhua said.

Ling headed the ruling Communist Party’s General Office under former President Hu Jintao, a position comparable to chief of staff to the U.S. president.

Ling fell out of political favor in 2012, just ahead of a once-in-decade power transition, when he was allegedly involved in the cover-up of his son’s death in a speeding Ferrari with two nude or half-dressed women as passengers.

In September of that year, shortly before Xi Jinping replaced Hu as party chief, Ling was transferred to the party’s United Front Work Department in what was widely seen as a demotion.

Soon afterward, Ling lost his remaining positions within the party’s upper echelon. In 2013 he was made a vice chairman of the powerless advisory body to China’s ceremonial parliament.

While working at the United Front Work Department and on the parliament’s advisory body, Ling obtained a large amount of state secrets through his contact at the General Office, violating China’s rules on state secrets, Xinhua said.

The Xinhua report on the verdict made no mention of Ling’s brother, Ling Wancheng, who is…

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