Former Chinese official stands trial over sex scandal

A Chinese official who lost his Communist Party post in southwestern China's Chongqing municipality over a videotape in which he was seen having sex with a girl the authorities earlier accused of extortion went on trial Wednesday for bribery involving 3.16 million yuan ($516,000).

State-run Xinhua News Agency said Lei Zhengfu, former secretary of Chongqing's Beibei District, was removed from his post and arrested by police in February after the sex tape surfaced on the Internet in November last year.

Lei, 55, was expelled from the party in May, Xinhua said.

Zhao Hongxia, who appeared in the sex video with Lei, and five other people, including clothing company owner Xiao Ye, are accused of trying to extort 3 million yuan from Lei and another official.

Appearing at the Chongqing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court, Lei denied part of the charges and said Zhao tried to use the sex tape to force him to marry her.

But he rejected her and said he sought help from her boss Xiao to mediate.

Xiao allegedly asked for 3 million yuan from Lei, Hong Kong's Cable TV reported and Lei said he asked another businessman to lend the money to Xiao.

But apparently only 1 million yuan was ever repaid.

It is so far unclear in the trial if Lei directly gave or received any money.

Related to the charges against Lei, the Chongqing authorities have said the extortion implicates at least 21 people -- Lei, 14 other officials and six executives of state-owned enterprises -- who were removed from their posts.

They are being investigated or disciplined by the party for allegedly appearing in other sex videos, Xinhua said.

Chongqing police also found that a criminal ring had hired women to seduce local officials and then the officials were blackmailed for money or government contracts by being shown the videos, it said.

Zhao and her group face extortion charges related to the blackmail ring in a trial scheduled Thursday in Chongqing's Yubei District Court.