BEIJING - China's once-in-a-decade leadership transition has been hit by reports of fresh scandal, with a senior ally of President Hu Jintao being demoted after sources said the ally's son was involved in a deadly crash involving a luxury sports car.

The car - a Ferrari according to some of the sources - crashed in Beijing on March 18 in an embarrassment for the ruling Communist Party, sensitive to perceptions that children of top party officials live rich, privileged lifestyles completely out of touch with the masses, the sources said.

The country has already been rocked by the biggest political scandal in two decades - the sacking of Bo Xilai, an ambitious senior politician whose wife recently received a suspended death sentence for the murder of a British businessman in a case that also involved a mix of money and power.

The car crash, the details of which are still shrouded in mystery, reportedly involved the son of Ling Jihua, 55, who state media said was dropped at the weekend as head of the party's General Office of the Central Committee.

Ling is very close to Hu.

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