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China tries former police chief for graft

china corruption trial
Seven of 11 people who were sentenced to death were executed last week  

BEIJING, China -- China is putting a former national deputy police chief on trial for his role in the biggest corruption case to come to light in the country since 1949.

State media reports say Li Jizhou faces the death penalty for attempting to cover up the smuggling operation, which took place in the southeastern port city of Xiamen.

The former vice minister of public security is also linked to another smuggling case in the southern port of Shantou, for which six people have already been executed.

The smuggling scandal involves the Yuanhua Group, which is accused of smuggling more than $6 billion dollars worth of cars, luxury goods, oil and cigarettes.

The smuggling took place over a four-year period, during the early 1990's.

Company owner Lai Changxing is now being detained in Canada, and is fighting extradition to his home country.

China has already executed seven of the 11 people that were sentenced to death in the first verdicts to be returned on the corruption case.

The official Xinhua News Agency reports that four more have been sentenced to die in a second batch of corruption trials involving 129 defendants.

State media have said they expect the executions to back up President Jiang Zemin's promise to wipe out corruption within the ranks of the country's political elite.

In September, China executed Cheng Kejie, former vice chairman of the country's standing committee in the National People's Congress.

Cheng became the highest-level official executed for corruption since the Communists took power in 1949.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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