A former chairman of China’s northwest Xinjiang region pleaded guilty at a trial on Thursday to accepting $11.5 million in bribes, the court said.
It is among the most high-profile cases in President Xi Jinping’s sweeping campaign against corruption in the Communist Party, which critics have compared to a political purge.
The Shenyang Intermediate People’s Court said Nur Bekri — who rose to become head of China’s national energy administration — pleaded guilty to accepting 79.1 million yuan ($11.5 million) in bribes, and had “showed repentance” during the trial.
The verdict will be announced at a “select date or time,” added the court on its official Twitter-like Weibo account.
Photos released by the Shenyang court showed Bekri in a white shirt and dark slacks, standing between two police officers in the courtroom.
He looked gaunt and noticeably thinner compared to photos from March 2018.
Bekri, an ethnic Uighur, had worked his way up in his native Xinjiang — eventually rising to deputy party secretary and government chairman in the far western region — before serving as head of the National Energy Agency.
He also served as deputy director of the country’s top economic planning office, making him one of the highest-ranking Uighur officials.
The Uighur minority populates the northwest Xinjiang region, where an estimated one million mostly Muslim ethnic minorities are held in internment camps which Beijing defends as “vocational education centres” used for counter-terrorism purposes.
During Bekri’s tenure in Xinjiang, he oversaw one of the deadliest periods of violence in the region, including riots that left nearly 200 dead.
At the time, Bekri vowed to “curb violent crimes with an iron hand”, according to state media.
Last September, China’s anti-graft agency said Bekri was being investigated for “serious violations of Party disciplinary rules and laws”.
He was later expelled from the Communist Party, said the Central Commission for Disciplinary Inspection (CCDI) in March.
Bekri had resisted investigators and was untruthful, the anti-corruption watchdog said in the statement.
The CCDI also said he had used his position to benefit himself and his family, buying luxury cars and doling out favours to others.
“(He) lived extravagantly… was morally corrupt, and abused his power for sexual favours,” the CCDI said.