A court in central China on Friday jailed for seven years on corruption charges a man identified by Chinese media as a fortune teller and healer connected to China's disgraced former public security chief Zhou Yongkang.
A court in central China on Friday jailed for seven years on corruption charges a man identified by Chinese media as a fortune teller and healer connected to China’s disgraced former public security chief Zhou Yongkang.
Zhou, the most senior Chinese official to be ensnared in a graft probe since the ruling Communist Party swept to power in 1949, was jailed for life last year for bribery, leaking state secrets and abuse of power.
Among his crimes was the unauthorized release of six secret documents to Cao Yongzheng, state media said, a man previously identified by Chinese media as a soothsayer, mystic and expert in qigong, a Chinese spiritual martial art similar to tai chi.
Cao provided testimony against Zhou in his closed-door trial, though it was unclear at the time whether he had done so in person or by deposition, or if he was also in custody.
In a brief statement on its official microblog, the intermediate court in the central city of Yichang said Cao had been found guilty of bribery and illegal land deals, jailed for seven years and fined 73 million yuan ($10.92 million).
Cao said he accepted the judgement and would not appeal, the court said, without elaborating.
It was not possible to reach Cao or a lawyer for him for comment.
Dubbed the “Xinjiang sage” by Chinese media, after the far Western region where he grew up, Cao garnered a following in celebrity and official circles in the 1990s for his purported knack for fortune telling and curing untreatable ailments.
Cao’s talents allowed him to cultivate contacts that reached into the upper echelons of the country’s ruling elite, respected business magazine Caixin has previously reported.
China’s officially atheist Communist Party brooks no challenge to its rule and is obsessed with social stability. It has particularly taken aim at cults, which have multiplied across the country in recent years.
Demonstrations have been put down with force and some sect leaders executed.