Former politician Bo Xilai's final appeal rejected by Chinese court

Former Communist Party politician has life sentence upheld by Shandong court

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The Independent Online

Fallen politician Bo Xilai has lost a final appeal against his life sentence today, after a Chinese court upheld his conviction for corruption and abuse of power.

The ruling came as no surprise to many who believed the fate of the ousted politician had been predetermined by party leaders in a court tightly controlled by the Communist Party.

Bo, a former Politburo member and Chongqing Communist Party leader, was convicted last month of embezzlement, bribery and abuse of power, and sentenced to life imprisonment.

He was removed from office in 2012 following a scandal involving his deputy, Wang Lijun, which prompted an investigation into the death of British businessman Neil Haywood. His wife, Gu Kailai, was subsequently convicted of Mr Heywood's murder which the court ruled was motivated by a financial dispute.

Bo was found guilty of accepting bribes amounting to 20m yuan (£2.3m) and was accused of abusing his position in office to cover for his wife's crimes. His supporters believe he is being imprisoned to prevent him from making a return to the political stage.

The court said Bo's offenses “led to extremely severe social consequences and caused major damage to the interest of the country and the people,” according to the ruling, posted on the court's website. Bo is expected to serve his term at Qincheng Prison, north of Beijing, which houses offenders from the political elite.

The court ruled that the evidence against him was clear and it was satisfied justice had been achieved.

"This court verified the facts and evidence of the court of first instance," Shandong high court spokesman Hou Jianjun told a news conference.

"The reasons for appeal presented by Bo Xilai and the opinions of his counsel did not have factual and legal basis, and were not tenable."

The court "ruled to reject the appeal, and uphold the original judgment", Hou added. "The above ruling is the final judgment."

The judgement was made behind closed doors and Bo can now only appeal to the Supreme People's Court in Beijing, although these complaints are often rejected and rarely cause another trial.

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