Uygur Aikebaier Wufur, 61, taken into custody after it was reported in August he had been placed under investigation for ‘serious disciplinary violations’

Official retired in January 2017, just months after hardliner Chen Quanguo took over as Communist Party secretary for the far western region

A retired government official from China’s

who was placed under investigation last year has been formally arrested on suspicion of taking bribes, the country’s top prosecutor said on Wednesday.

Aikebaier Wufur, who headed the region’s agriculture department for almost four years before stepping down in January 2017, was taken into custody on the instructions of the prosecutor’s office in Urumqi – the regional capital – following an investigation by the Xinjiang supervisory committee, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate (SPP) said.

It was reported in August that the 61-year-old ethnic Uygur had been placed under investigation for “serious disciplinary violations”, a Communist Party euphemism for

According to his résumé, Wufur was born in Xinjiang’s Aksu prefecture and joined the party in 1987. During his career he held various government positions before taking over as head of the agriculture department in March 2013.

His case is now awaiting further processing, the SPP said on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform.

Wufur retired about four months after Chen Quanguo took over as Communist Party secretary of Xinjiang.

Under Chen’s leadership, the party has taken aggressive measures to tighten control over the ethnic groups that live in the far western region, including detaining at least 1 million Uygurs and other minorities in re-education camps in the name of counterterrorism and anti-separatism.

Regional officials have said that all of the detainees of what they termed “vocational training schools” have since been released, but other reports suggest many people continue to be held in forced labour camps or deprived of their personal freedoms.

In December,

, a Uygur and former chairman of Xinjiang, was sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of taking more than 79 million yuan (US$11.1 million) in bribes.

Once one of the highest ranked ethnic minority officials in the Chinese government, Bekri was appointed regional chairman in 2008 – a post equivalent to that of a provincial governor – and six years later took over as director of the National Energy Administration.

Five months earlier, Enwaer Tursun, the then deputy secretary general of Xinjiang’s people’s congress, was placed under investigation for “serious violations of law and party discipline.”

The ethnic Uygur had earlier supported the crackdown on “religious extremism” in the region.

Since being elected Chinese president in 2013, Xi Jinping has made fighting corruption one of his top priorities. The campaign has led to the dismissal and arrest of dozens of senior officials in Xinjiang, including Bekri’s chief of staff Alimjan Mehmet Emin and his deputy land chief Li Jianxin.

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