China's 'smiling' official jailed 14 years

Beijing, Sept. 5 (ANI): A local court in northwest China Thursday sentenced a work safety official who left the nation aghast when he was filmed "smiling" at the scene of a fatal road accident to 14 years in prison.

Yang Dacai, former head of Shaanxi work safety administration, was found guilty of taking bribes and holding a large amount of property which he cannot account for, at Xi'an Intermediate People's Court.

The court ordered confiscation of the 250,000 yuan (40,500 U.S. dollars) in bribes he took and over 5 million yuan of property he failed to account for. He was also fined 50,000 yuan, Xinhua reports.

Yang did not appeal against the first-instance verdict.

In a hearing on Friday, Yang was accused of taking the 250,000 yuan to help a technology appraisal company upgrade its security assessment credentials.

He possesses a family property worth 11.77 million yuan (1.9 million U.S. dollars) and cannot identify where 5 million yuan came from.

The prosecution argued that Yang's family deposits are far more than his income as a public servant.

He pleaded guilty to the two charges Friday.

Yang's precipitous plunge from grace began when images of him grinning merrily at the scene of a traffic accident which left 36 people dead appeared online in August of last year. His expression was seen as inappropriate and unsympathetic.

Photographs soon surfaced online of Yang wearing luxury wristwatches, earning him the nickname "Brother Watch." Although Yang claimed he purchased the watches with his own salary, netizens argued the public servant could not possible have afforded such expensive items.

The online anti-graft crusade soon led to an official inquiry.

After an initial investigation, Yang was dismissed from his post as a member of the Shaanxi Provincial Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in September 2012. He was also thrown out as head and CPC chief of the provincial work safety administration.

He was expelled from the CPC and his case transferred to judicial authorities in February. (ANI)

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