The fallen politician Bo Xilai attacked his wife and his former right-hand man in four days of evidence ending today, rejecting accusations of corruption and shielding a murderer in a trial that has offered a glimpse into the shady inner workings of China’s elite.
A court heard allegations over the weekend that Mr Bo abused his power as the Communist Party secretary of the city of Chongqing to block an investigation into his wife’s murder of a British businessman, as well as to hide his aide’s flight to a US consulate.
Mr Bo told the Jinan Intermediate People’s Court that his former right-hand man, the Chongqing police chief, Wang Lijun, “constantly lied in his testimony”. He said Mr Wang was “a person of very vile quality, who lied in court and muddied the waters.” Mr Bo acknowledged that he made mistakes in the handling of the incidents that triggered the nation’s biggest political scandal in decades and brought shame on the Communist Party, but denied criminal misconduct. The trial was adjourned until Monday, when closing arguments will take place.
The Communist Party is using the trial to cement Mr Bo’s downfall and wrap up a scandal that hangs over the party’s recently installed new leadership as it tries to cement its authority and fully focus on tackling serious economic and social challenges.
Mr Bo’s downfall has also been widely perceived as the result of his defeat in party infighting ahead of China’s leadership transition last autumn. In a rare show of openness, the court has been publicising details of the trial in a bid to lend credibility to what is seen as a political show trial. Mr Bo, in return, has refrained from using the trial as a stage on which to denounce the administration and the opponents who purged him – which would be the leadership’s worst nightmare.
“So far, the worst has been avoided,” said Ding Xueliang, a Chinese politics expert at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.