SHANGHAI (AFP) – Shanghai has suspended four judges over allegations that they patronised prostitutes, reports and officials said, in the latest salacious Chinese scandal to result from online accusations.
An inquiry was opened after an anonymous blogger, identified by state media only as being surnamed Ni, posted footage online last week alleging that five officials hired prostitutes at a local resort in June.
The Shanghai Higher People's Court said on Tencent Weibo, a Twitter-like social media service, that Chen Xueming, the chief judge of its No.1 Civil Tribunal, and three other officials had been suspended.
"The Shanghai Higher People's Court is highly concerned about the incident and has launched an investigation into the case," it said.
The court had previously said Zhao Minghua, deputy chief judge of the tribunal, was among those named on Ni's blog.
Ni claimed Zhao intervened in a civil case in 2009 that caused him a huge financial loss, the state-run Global Times newspaper reported Monday.
He spent a year following Zhao, it said, "and discovered that he frequently went to nightclubs, owned several properties and had extramarital affairs".
Surveillance video posted by Ni purported to show five officials including Chen and Zhao entering a luxury room after a three-hour banquet at the resort, followed by several women who stood by the door.
Subtitles said that Chen allocated the prostitutes to each man. Video showed officials walking out two hours later, some of them arm-in-arm with women.
The identity of the fifth person in the footage remains unknown.
Shanghai's city disciplinary commission, which is taking part in the investigation, said on its Tencent Weibo account that all four of the accused were judges.
"The involvement of four judges in the 'nightclub entertainment incident' deprived the law of its dignity, put judiciary to shame and caused damage to justice," it said.
It was investigating "to preserve the image of the party and the government and safeguard the stable political, economic and social development of Shanghai", it said, and would disclose the results of the case to the public.
The incident is the latest in a series of scandals over corruption and other disciplinary violations, including sexual impropriety, by Chinese officials to be revealed online by whistleblowers.