BEIJING: A Chinese official branded “Brother Watch” because of his expensive taste in timepieces was on Thursday sentenced to 14 years in jail for corruption, lamenting his fall into the “abyss of crime,” reports said.
Yang Dacai first came under scrutiny from Chinese Internet users after he was pictured grinning broadly as he assessed the twisted wreckage of a bus and a methanol tanker following an accident, which left 36 people dead last year.
The former work safety boss in the northern province of Shaanxi was later derided online after images of him wearing various luxury brand watches were tracked down and circulated.
“I worked for several decades, before finally taking the road to crime,” he told the Intermediate People’s Court in Xian, Shaanxi’s provincial capital, according to state news agency Xinhua.
“It is useless to repent after falling into the abyss of crime, but I sincerely want to confess and regret the crime I committed, and beg the court to give me a brand new start in life,” he added.
The sentence was imposed following a one-day trial last week in which Yang was accused of having property worth 5.04 million yuan ($820,000) from unexplained sources and accepting 250,000 yuan in bribes, state broadcaster China Central Television said.
The 5.04 million yuan “probably” represented “presents from junior officials and old school-friends during festivals,” Yang said previously, according to domestic reports.
He did not object to the charges and was also fined 50,000 yuan.