Former police chief in Bo Xilai case to be tried for abuse of power

Protégé of purged leader faces charges as party tries to bolster legitimacy before leadership change

Wang Lijun, the former police chief in Chongqing and one-time protégé of Bo Xilai, the purged Communist leader, has been charged with defection, abuse of power and taking bribes in the latest development in China's biggest political scandal in decades.

The Bo Xilai scandal was largely sparked by Mr Wang's flight to the US consulate in Chengdu and his attempt to seek asylum in exchange for information about Mr Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, who was convicted in August of murdering the British businessman Neil Heywood. She was given a suspended death sentence after a brief trial.

"Wang Lijun, Chongqing's former vice mayor, has recently been charged with bending the law for selfish ends, defection, abuse of power and bribe-taking by the People's Procuratorate of Chengdu City, capital of south-west China's Sichuan Province," China's official Xinhua news agency said in a brief statement.

Mr Wang is a colourful character, known for carrying out his own post-mortem examinations and boasting of how he trained with the FBI and was kidnapped by the Italian mafia. His official title was deputy mayor, and he gained notoriety for a crackdown on gangs in Chongqing which he began at Mr Bo's behest. More than 1,500 people were arrested, including gangsters, prominent businessmen and 14 high-ranking officials.

The charges against Mr Wang come shortly before the conclusion of a brief visit to Beijing by Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, and before a once-in-a-decade leadership transition in China in which President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao will be replaced by Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang. The make-up of the all-powerful Standing Committee of the Politburo will also change, and fierce in-fighting has broken out as senior party members jostle for influence.

The state-run media have said the trials of Ms Gu and Mr Wang will strengthen people's faith in the legal system, a message aimed at bolstering the legitimacy of the ruling Communist Party before the leadership handover. But many have taken to the Twitter-style micro-blogging service Weibo, saying the trials are merely show trials intended to fool the people.

The leadership transition is traditionally a fraught time in Chinese politics, and the Communist Party is keen to get the Bo Xilai case cleared up before it happens. The handover is due to take place at the 18th Party Congress, which sources have said will be held from 15 to 18 October.

Four days after he was suddenly fired, Mr Wang sought sanctuary at the US Consulate in Chengdu, 200 miles away, and there he allegedly offered information to US officials on the Heywood case. At the consulate, Mr Wang allegedly accused Ms Gu of having a hand in Mr Heywood's death, according to reports.

The businessman's death went mostly unnoticed when it took place in November, and was believed to have resulted from a night of heavy drinking. But it eventually took centre stage in the high-profile scandal.

Mr Wang was removed from his post as gang-busting police chief in February. The Chongqing government said at the time that he was suffering from "immense mental stress and serious physical discomfort" and was receiving "vacation-style therapy". But by then the stage was set for Mr Bo's downfall.

Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
News
Clare Balding
peopleClare Balding on how women's football is shaking up sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Sport
Tony Bellew (left) and Nathan Cleverly clash at the Echo Arena in Liverpool
boxingLate surge sees Liverpudlian move into world title contention
Voices
Neil Findlay
voicesThe vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
food + drinkMeat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
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

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin