Trial of former senior Chinese politician Bo Xilai ends

Monday 26 August 2013 20.25
Convoy takes Bo Xilai away from the court house
Convoy takes Bo Xilai away from the court house

The trial of former senior Chinese politician Bo Xilai ended with the verdict due at an unspecified later date, state news agency Xinhua said.

Mr Bo's trial on charges of corruption, accepting bribes and abuse of power started last Thursday and lasted through the weekend.

Chinese prosecutors demanded a heavy sentence for the ousted politician.

Prosecutors said his "whimsical" challenge to the charges flew in the face of the evidence.

Mr Bo was a rising star in China's leadership circles when his career was stopped short last year by a murder scandal.

His wife Gu Kailai was convicted of poisoning a British businessman, Neil Heywood, who had been a family friend.

Mr Bo was Communist Party chief of the southwestern metropolis of Chongqing.

He raised an unexpectedly feisty defence since the trial began last Thursday, denouncing testimony against him by his wife as the ravings of a mad woman.

Mr Bo repeatedly said he is not guilty of any of the charges.

He admitted to making some bad decisions and to shaming his country by his handling of his former police chief Wang Lijun, who first told Mr Bo that Gu had probably murdered Mr Heywood.

Mr Wang fled to the US consulate in the nearby city of Chengdu in February last year after confronting Mr Bo with evidence that Gu was involved in the murder.

Mr Wang was also jailed last year for covering up the crime.

Summing up the evidence on the fifth day of the trial, the state's prosecutor said Mr Bo should not be shown leniency as he had recanted admissions of guilt provided ahead of the trial.

"Over the past few days of the trial, the accused Bo Xilai has not only flatly denied a vast amount of conclusive evidence and facts of his crimes, he has also repudiated his pre-trial written testimony and materials," the court cited the prosecutor as saying.

"We take this opportunity to remind Bo Xilai: the facts of the crimes are objective, and can't be shifted around on your whim," it said, without saying which of the four prosecutors had made the remarks.

The trial has heard many salacious allegations against Mr Bo, with transcripts, although these are probably highly edited, being carried on the court's official microblog.

The prosecution has alleged that Mr Bo took more than 20 million yuan (€2.4m) in bribes from two businessmen.

It was also alleged that he embezzled another 5 million yuan (€610,000) from a government building project, and abused his power in trying to cover up Gu's crime.

Details have been presented of a villa on the French Riviera bought for the Bo family by businessman Xu Ming.

Xu Ming also paid for foreign trips by Bo and Gu's son, Bo Guagua, offering a glimpse into the lifestyles of China's elite politicians.

Mr Bo said that he had initially admitted to Communist Party anti-corruption investigators that he received bribes as he had been "under psychological pressure".

Mr Bo also said he been framed by one of the men accused of bribing him, businessman Tang Xiaolin, who he called a "mad dog".
The prosecutor said Mr Bo's lack of contrition would count against him.

"The severeness of the accused's crimes, and that he refused to admit guilt, don't match the circumstances of leniency, and (he) must be severely punished in accordance with the law."

Despite Mr Bo's gutsy defence, a guilty verdict is a foregone conclusion as China's courts are controlled by the Communist Party.

State media, which speaks for the party, has already all but condemned him.

Mr Bo could theoretically be given the death penalty for the charges.

Many observers say that is unlikely as the party will not want to make a martyr of a man whose left-leaning social welfare policies won much popular support.