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    Jul 22, 2015

    Hu Jintao's ex-aide nabbed over 'severe crimes'


    LING Jihua, the former top aide of China's former president Hu Jintao, has been expelled from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) over alleged crimes that appear to be very severe, according to many Chinese media outlets, with few comparable precedents among recent corruption cases.

    According to the official Xinhua News Agency, Beijing announced Mr Ling's expulsion on Monday night.

    The 58-year-old had critically breached party discipline and rules, peddled his influence for massive bribes, got hold of an enormous amount of key state secrets illegally, unscrupulously got benefits for himself and his wife, committed adultery with several women, and allowed relatives and associates to make use of his position to garner wealth, said Xinhua.

    He has been handed over to the prosecutors, who arrested him, said Xinhua.

    China's Sohu news portal pointed out that many words in the statement, such as "enormous amount of key state secrets", have not been seen in earlier indictments of officials.

    The Hong Kong-based news website Now suggests that Mr Ling's crimes are, in the eyes of President Xi Jinping, as serious as those of former security chief Zhou Yongkang, both top-level officials.

    Zhou was handed a life sentence last month for corruption and abuse of power, following a year-long investigation.

    Mr Ling's downfall is believed to have been triggered by a Ferrari crash in Beijing in March 2012, which killed his son - who was driving the car - and a female passenger, with another woman severely injured.

    The three were found to be "incompletely dressed" in the car, and Mr Ling's moves to cover up the accident aroused suspicion, said earlier reports.

    Hong Kong and Taiwan-based media outlets have speculated that Mr Ling and Zhou - along with Xu Caihou, once China's second-most senior military officer, and Bo Xilai, former party leader of Chongqing city, who was jailed in 2013 after a murder and graft investigation - had formed a political faction opposed to Mr Xi, reported Agence France-Presse.

    Citing that theory, some analysts said the removal of the four is a political move by Mr Xi, who took over from Mr Hu in late 2012, to reinforce his power.