A close ally of Chinese President Hu Jintao has been demoted following reports that his son was killed in a car crash in the company of two scantily-dressed girls, both of whom were injured.
The South China Morning Post cited an unnamed official Monday as confirming reports that Ling Gu, the son of once high-ranking communist official Ling Jihua, was killed in March while driving a luxury sports car. The reports said he was half-dressed at the time of the crash.
The official news media reported that Ling Jihua was recently dismissed as head of the party's General Office of the Central Committee, not mentioning the car crash.
The embarrassing reports of the alleged March 18 crash in a speeding Ferrari car follow closely at the heels of China's biggest political scandal in decades - the fall from grace of senior politician Bo Xilai, whose wife received a suspended death sentence last month, after admitting to killing a British businessman by poison.
Both scandals threaten to undermine China's hopes for a smooth, once-a-decade political transition as officials fear that the public will be outraged by cases of excess and recklessness among China's power elites.