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China ex-railways minister charged with graft

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Prosecutors Wednesday charged China's former railways minister Liu Zhijun with bribery and abuse of power, state media said, after scandals involving hundreds of millions of yuan.

The official Xinhua news agency said the charges were filed at the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People's Court, which has "accepted the case and will set a trial date".

Details of the charges were not immediately published. The court refused to comment to AFP.

State media have previously reported that Liu, who was appointed in 2003 and sacked in 2011, faced investigation for allegedly taking payouts while handing out contracts for the rapid expansion of China's high-speed railway system.

He was expelled from the ruling Communist Party in November, a move seen as paving the way for a trial over alleged bribe-taking involving 800 million yuan ($129 million). Expulsion from the party typically precedes a court trial.

China's rail system -- which has cost hundreds of billions of dollars -- has been one of its flagship development projects in recent years, and it now boasts the world's longest high-speed network.

But a high-speed crash in the eastern city of Wenzhou killed some 40 people in 2011, sparking a torrent of public criticism that authorities compromised safety in their rush to expand the network.

China announced last month it was switching control of the railway ministry's administrative functions to the transport ministry and handing its commercial functions to a new China Railway Corporation.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130410/china-ex-railways-minister-charged-graft