Chinese 'Brother Watch' jailed for graft

Beijing, Sep 5 (IANS) A court in China Thursday sentenced to 14 years in prison for graft an official who gained notoriety after he was caught smiling at the scene of a fatal road accident.

Yang Dacai, former head of the Shaanxi provincial work safety administration department, was found guilty of taking bribes and holding a large amount of property which he could not account for, reports Xinhua.

The court in Xi'an city ordered confiscation of the 250,000 yuan ($40,500) in bribes he took and the property he failed to account for.

Yang, who pleaded guilty to the two charges Friday, did not appeal against the verdict.

In a hearing last week, Yang was accused of taking 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) and cannot identify where five million yuan came from.

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

Photographs also 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 possibly 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 in September 2012. He was also thrown out as head and party chief of the provincial work safety administration.

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