China Punishes Ex-Village Officials Over Corruption Probe

Posted April 24th, 2012 at 4:40 am (UTC-5)
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Two former officials in a southern Chinese village have been expelled from the ruling Communist Party after being targeted in mass protests against alleged corruption and unfair land seizures last year.

The state-run Xinhua news agency says Xue Chang, the former Communist Party leader of Wukan village in Guangdong province, and Chen Shunyi, the ex-leader of the village committee, have also been ordered to return thousands of dollars in illegal income.

Six other former Wukan village officials were also punished, as well as a dozen township and municipal officials.

Demonstrations broke out in Wukan in September, with angry villagers accusing local officials of illegally seizing their land. The protests lasted for several weeks, and turned violent after one of the protest leaders died in police custody.

The death prompted residents to take control of Wukan, forcing Party officials to flee and police to cordon off the village.

An investigation found that Wukan's officials were involved in illegal transfers of land use rights, accepting bribes and rigging village elections.

Villagers elected a new leadership council in March, an event many reformers hope will lead to further democratic reforms in the one-party state.