Sun Xiaoguo, imprisoned for rape in 1998, was freed after less than 13 years
Courts in Yunnan province sentenced 19 people, including several former high-level officials, for offenses related to jailed organized crime figure Sun Xiaoguo on Sunday, the provincial authorities said.
Sun's mother, former policewoman Sun Heyu, was given a 20-year sentence, the longest prison term among the 19 defendants, for multiple crimes, including bribery and bending the law for selfish ends. Li Qiaozhong, Sun Xiaoguo's stepfather and ex-director of the Wuhua district urban management bureau in Kunming, Yunnan's provincial capital, was sentenced to 19 years in prison on similar duty-related criminal charges, authorities said in a statement.
Seventeen others, including some who worked for the provincial court, public security and prison systems, were given sentences ranging from two to 12 years in prison for illegal leniency in punishing Sun Xiaoguo and reducing his prison terms after receiving bribes from his parents, the statement said.
Sun Xiaoguo was sentenced to death by the Kunming Intermediate People's Court in 1998 for rape, intentional injury and disturbance of public order.
The penalty was then cut to a suspended death with a two-year reprieve by the Yunnan High People's Court, and was then further reduced to 20 years. Sun Xiaoguo was released in April 2010, after spending 12 years and five months behind bars.
The statement issued on Sunday said that after Sun Xiaoguo was sentenced to death, his parents turned to officials of the high court and the provincial government several times from June 2005 to 2008, asking them to help Sun Xiaoguo receive a lenient penalty at a retrial and offering them bribes in return.
From 2004 to 2009, Sun Xiaoguo's parents visited officials at the justice bureau and the prison where he was serving his sentence, asking them to give "special care" to Sun Xiaoguo in return for bribes, it said. Sun Xiaoguo later received a falsified patent that helped him qualify for commutation and his sentence was illegally cut three times.
To cover up Sun Xiaoguo's unusually frequent sentence reductions at the same prison, his parents asked another official for help at the end of 2008, and got him transferred to another prison to ensure his sentence could be further reduced, it added.
After he was released from prison in April 2010, Sun Xiaoguo became a shareholder of several enterprises and controlled many bars.
In July last year, Sun Xiaoguo was caught by the Kunming Public Security Bureau on suspicion of intentionally injuring another man. According to the law he should have been detained, but he was released on bail a month later after police officials received bribes from Li and a friend of Sun Xiaoguo's, the statement said.
In April, Sun Xiaoguo received national attention when a local media outlet reported several gangs, including one he led, had been smashed in an organized crime crackdown in Kunming. The case triggered widespread concern over judicial corruption after follow-up stories revealed Sun Xiaoguo had escaped the death penalty after being convicted of multiple charges in 1998 and had been living as a free man.
Despite those revelations, Li sought further aid by offering bribes to officials in the public security and judicial systems, the statement added.
In October, the high court began retrying Sun Xiaoguo's case, dividing it into three major parts: his old case from the 1990s; the alleged duty crimes of those who sheltered him; and Sun Xiaoguo's gang-related offenses after his release.
In November, the Yuxi Intermediate People's Court sentenced Sun Xiaoguo, as the ringleader of a 13-member gang, to 25 years in prison for organizing criminal activity, and for operating gambling houses, disturbing public order, illegal detention, intentional injury, obstructing testimony and offering bribes - all crimes he committed after he was released.
The ruling on his old case has not been announced by the high court.
Zhao Shijie, ex-president of the high court, was placed on probation within the Communist Party of China for one year on Saturday for abusing his position and power to engage in fraud for selfish gains and demanding that judges pervert the law in their judgment during the hearing that reduced Sun Xiaoguo's sentence.