Smiling ‘Brother Watch’ put on trial


A Chinese official with a penchant for luxury watches who sparked outrage after he was photographed smiling at the scene of a fatal accident went on trial Friday for corruption, reports said.

Yang Dacai was dubbed “Brother Watch” by Chinese Internet users after images of him wearing various luxury brand watches were tracked down and circulated online.

He came under scrutiny from a furious public after he was pictured grinning broadly while assessing the twisted wreckage of a bus and a methanol tanker following an accident that left 36 people dead last year.

An investigation by the ruling Communist Party’s discipline inspection commission found him guilty of “inappropriate ‘smiling face’ behavior” and he was dismissed as head of the work safety administration in Shaanxi province.

Yang went on trial Friday accused of having property worth 5.04 million yuan ($820,000) from unexplained sources and accepting 250,000 yuan in bribes, state broadcaster CCTV said on its verified Sina Weibo microblog.

He did not object to the charges, it added.

Yang is but one of a number of government officials being publicly derided after being embroiled in online scandals as authorities seek to contain popular anger over perceptions that public servants are indulging in expensive hobbies and corruption.

Pictures posted online showed him wearing 11 flashy watches — five of which are together estimated to be worth more than 300,000 yuan ($48,000), the China Daily newspaper quoted an expert as saying. Other images showed him in designer glasses and belts.