China charges Bo Xilai with corruption, bribery and abuse of power

Thursday 25 July 2013 08.06
Bo Xilai has not been seen in public for 17 months
Bo Xilai has not been seen in public for 17 months

China has charged disgraced senior politician Bo Xilai with bribery, abuse of power and corruption.

The charges pave the way for a trial seen by many as a test for legal reform and President Xi Jinping's commitment to combat corruption.

Mr Bo, 64, could appear in a courtroom in the eastern city of Jinan in Shandong province within weeks. He has not been seen in public for 17 months.

Mr Xi, who formally took power in March, will be eager to put the scandal behind him and have unstinted support from the Communist Party.

The president is trying to rebalance the world's second-largest economy and crack down on corruption among senior officials.

But the outcome of Mr Bo's trial, who was regarded as a charismatic and well-loved leader to some and a power-hungry politician to others, could sharpen rifts.

Mr Bo committed serious crimes and will be indicted on the charges of bribery, embezzlement and power abuse, state news agency Xinhua quoted the indictment as saying.

He had been informed of his legal rights and interviewed by prosecutors, it said.

Xinhua said Mr Bo, as a civil servant, took advantage of his position to seek profits for others and accepted an "extremely large amount" of money and properties.

His wife, Gu Kailai, and former police chief, Wang Lijun, have both been jailed over the scandal, which stems from the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.

The government accused Mr Bo in September last year of corruption and of bending the law to hush up the murder.

China's prosecutors and courts come under Communist Party control and they are unlikely to challenge the party's previous accusations.