Bo Xilai corruption trial to be held this August in China

Politician charged with accepting bribes, corruption and abuse of power

The trial of disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai could begin as early as this week, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday, marking the beginning of the end of China's most sensational scandal in decades.

The trial is most likely to take place in the eastern city of Jinan, said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity to avoid repercussions for talking to a foreign reporter about elite politics.

Bo has been charged with accepting bribes, corruption and abuse of power, the source added.

Hong Kong's South China Morning Post, citing unidentified sources, said details of the charges against Bo had been read out at meetings of government officials in his former power base of Chongqing and other cities.

One of Bo's lawyers, Li Guifang, contacted by Reuters, said it was "inconvenient to speak". He later turned off his mobile telephone.

"I have not received any notice about this case," an official at the propaganda department of the Intermediate People's Court in Jinan said by telephone.

However, a Jinan government official with knowledge of the case, who asked not to be identified by name, said the city was one of several in China where courts were preparing materials for a Bo trial. He did not elaborate.

Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, and his former police chief, Wang Lijun, have both been jailed over China's biggest political scandal in years, which stems from the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood in November 2011.

In September last year, the government accused Bo of corruption and of bending the law to hush up the murder. It also accused him of "improper sexual relations with multiple women", a common charge levelled against officials suspected of graft.

China's prosecutors and courts come under Communist Party control and are most unlikely to challenge its accusations, though formal charges have yet to be publicly announced and the trial is likely to be conducted, at least partly, in secret.

But that would be natural if the case touches upon what China considers sensitive matters which may be considered state secrets, said Li Weidong, a former magazine editor who has followed the scandal around Bo.

"Still, this is not good for the government's pledges of transparency," he said, referring to the lack of any confirmation from the government about what exactly is happening in the case or when the trial will start.

Still, Bo is unlikely to be given the death sentence, despite the severity of the charges he is facing, Li added.

"They've long since ruled out executing him. He's most likely to get life in jail."

Bo was ousted as Communist Party chief in the southwestern city of Chongqing last year after Heywood's murder.

Before that, he had been widely tipped to be promoted to the party's elite inner core.

His downfall came after his estranged police chief, Wang, fled briefly to a U.S. consulate in the neighbouring city of Chengdu in February last year and accused Bo's wife of poisoning Heywood.

Bo, a former commerce minister, used his post as Communist Party chief of Chongqing from 2007 to 2012 to cast the sprawling, haze-covered municipality into a showcase for his mix of populist policies and bold spending plans that won support from leftists yearning for a charismatic leader.

Wang had spearheaded Bo's controversial campaign against organised crime, a prominent plank in Bo's barely concealed campaign to join the topmost ranks of the Communist Party.

His brash self-promotion irked some leaders. But his populist ways and crime clean-up were welcomed by many of Chongqing's 30 million residents, as well as others who hoped that Bocould take his leftist-shaded policies nationwide.

China's party-run courts rarely find in favour of defendants, especially in politically-sensitive cases. But some leftist sympathisers have insisted Bo is the victim of a political plot.

"It's very hard to believe these accusations. Bo is a great man who knew how to get things done," said Sima Nan, a well-known defender of Bo's policies who makes a living appearing on television entertainment shows.

"What he did, to radically transform Chongqing from the undeveloped backwater it was, was quite amazing."

Bo was suspended from the party's top ranks in April 2012, when his wife Gu was named as an official suspect in the murder of Heywood, a long-time friend of the couple who also helped their son Bo Guagua settle into study in Britain.

In August last year, Gu, formerly a powerful lawyer, was given a suspended death sentence, which effectively means life in prison, for murdering Heywood. Wang was then jailed for 15 years over charges that indicated Bo tried to stifle a murder inquiry, in the first official linking of Bo with a criminal case.

After first helping Gu evade suspicion of poisoning Heywood, Wang hushed up evidence of the murder, according to the official account of Wang's trial. In late January 2012, Wang confronted Bo with the allegation that Gu was suspected of killing Heywood. But Wang was "angrily rebuked and had his ears boxed".

Since Bo was sacked, he has disappeared from public view and has not had a chance to respond publicly to the accusations against him.

At a news conference days before his dismissal as Chongqing party chief, Bo scorned as nonsense unspecified accusations of misdeeds by his wife and said unnamed people were pouring "filth on my family".

Rumours have swirled in China about Bo's fate, but the government has given no definitive word on progress into the investigation against him since late last year.

Another Hong Kong newspaper, the Beijing-backed Ta Kung Pao, reported in January that Bo was about to be tried in the southern city of Guiyang, which sent dozens of reporters flocking to the courthouse.

The report turned out to be untrue.

Reuters

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Frank Turner performing at 93 Feet East
musicReview: 93 Feet East, London
News
Toronto tops the charts across a range of indexes
news

World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'

Extras
indybest
Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Digital Content Manager

£26000 - £31000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Content Manager is re...

Recruitment Genius: Senior .Net Application Developer

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£14000 - £17500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The successful applicant will b...

Recruitment Genius: Continuous Improvement Manager

£41500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is going through a period o...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee