BEIJING - A top Chinese military officer has been formally charged with corruption after he was exposed as owning dozens of homes, gold statues and luxury liquor, state media reported Tuesday.
Gu Junshan, a former lieutenant general and deputy logistics chief for the People’s Liberation Army, is the highest-ranking officer to face a military trial since 2006, the state-run Global Times newspaper said.
He was charged with embezzlement, bribery, misuse of state funds and abuse of power, Xinhua said, quoting the military prosecutors’ office, which could not be reached by AFP.
Gu has been under investigation for more than two years. In January, widespread coverage of his opulent lifestyle in China’s 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 home was modelled on the Forbidden City, the former imperial palace in Beijing, covered one hectare (2.5 acres) and was dubbed the “General’s Mansion” by locals, it said.
Officials seized “a gold boat, a gold wash basin and a gold statue of Mao Zedong” along with “crates of expensive liquor” on the premises, it added.
Gu’s name disappeared from an official list of personnel at his logistics department in early 2012 and eventually from the entire defence ministry website, and he left his post that year, Caixin said.
He joined the military in 1971 after finishing school, began handling military business operations in Puyang in 1985 and rose over the next decade to oversee logistics in the area.
Gu become deputy chief of the PLA General Logistics department in 2009, and he “profited from the projects and land deals” in which he was involved, Caixin said.
Gong Fangbin, a professor from the PLA’s National Defence University, told the Global Times that “few officers” with the rank of lieutenant general had stood trial in recent decades.
“The trial at military court wouldn’t be made fully public due to the fact that it may involve confidential military information, though Gu’s criminal facts and sentence will be announced,” Gong said, according to the newspaper.
A commentary in the People’s Daily newspaper, the official mouthpiece of the Communist Party, described Gu 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 as party chief and top military commander in November 2012, President Xi Jinping has taken steps to ensure the Communist hierarchy’s control of the military and stressed the need for PLA loyalty.
The son of a revered revolutionary, Xi is said to have closer links to the military than his predecessor Hu Jintao.
Xi 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.