Wukan deputy chief detained for bribery

By Jiang Jie Source:Global Times Published: 2014-3-17 0:18:03

A villager who planned to run for the head of a village in South China's Guangdong Province was detained for bribery two weeks before the election and released on bail the next day.

Prosecutors placed Yang Semao, deputy head of Wukan village, under criminal detention on Thursday afternoon for taking bribes, according to the Lufeng city government, which released the information on its official Weibo account.

Yang was granted bail on Friday after admitting to accepting bribes twice from project contractors.

Yang confirmed to the Global Times on Sunday that he had accepted 20,000 yuan ($3,251.9) in bribes last year.

But he donated half the money to a local school in the name of an anonymous donor and the other half was returned to the contractor, he told the Global Times.

Authorities investigated the same bribes in May last year, Yang said, but no punishment was given at that time.

"I was in charge of education and I didn't know it would break the law when I used the money for an education fund," he said.

Wukan grabbed international headlines in 2011 after residents launched protests against officials over rigged elections, land disputes and corruption.

Yang, who represented villagers in early protests, was elected deputy head of Wukan at the beginning of 2012 in a re-election of the village committee after a provincial investigation team declared the previous election invalid.

After the re-elected committee ruled the village for a year, villagers began to complain the committee was incompetent as they were slow at recovering the collective land that had been illegally sold, according to guancha.cn, a website of observers' opinions.

Yang told the Shanghai-based Dragon TV in February 2013 that some representatives from the protests, who were not in the village committee, began to criticize the new committee, preventing them from ruling the village well.

During the last two years, more than 5,000 mu (330 hectares) of land determined to have been illegally transferred, allotted or left idle has been returned to the village, Xinhua reported.

About 12,000 mu of land was illegally sold and 7,000 mu of recertified land was almost impossible to get back, the village committee told the Shanghai TV.

Yang attended the village's representative meeting on Saturday, where representatives were briefed on the regulations and the process of the election.

Yang said he would still run for village chief when the village elects a new committee on March 31.

"They can't cancel his right to run for village chief without permission from the local courts or prosecutors," said Xiong Wei, a Beijing-based observer.

Villagers expressed concern about potential cheating in the upcoming election as members of the disgraced former village committee have allegedly taken part in the current committee work, said Zhuang Liehong, a former member of the current village committee.

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