Page last updated at 04:57 GMT, Sunday, 19 October 2008 05:57 UK

Ex-Beijing vice-mayor convicted

Construction work in Beijing (2006)
Liu supervised the building of venues ahead of August's Olympic Games

A former vice-mayor of the Chinese capital, Beijing, has received a suspended death sentence for corruption, state media have said.

Liu Zhihua was convicted by a court in Hebei province of taking $1,020,000 (589,000) in bribes while in charge of building venues for the Olympic Games.

Liu abused his power to give contracts, loans and promotions to others in return for the money, the reports said.

When sacked as vice-mayor in 2006, Liu was also accused of having bad morals.

He was believed to have kept several mistresses, some of whom he reportedly helped become rich through his illegal activities.

One of them, Wang Jianrui, was named by the Intermediate People's Court in the city of Hengshui, although the reports did not say whether she had been prosecuted.

Liu's lawyer, Mo Shaoping, told the Associated Press that the allegations had been dubious and that he would probably appeal.

A suspended death penalty in China is normally commuted to life imprisonment on condition of good behaviour.

China has been hit in recent years by a number of high-profile cases of official corruption, which has become rampant since market reforms opened the economy in the 1980s. President Hu Jintao has vowed to take action against those found guilty.

Correspondents say reporting on Liu's prosecution was restricted in the months leading up to the Olympics in order to avoid tarnishing the state's image.

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