It’s far from a show trial in China as Bo Xilai claims he was framed

Disgraced Communist Party chief says corruption confession was forced out of him

Jinan

Bo Xilai, the disgraced former rising star of the Chinese Communist Party, came out fighting on the first day of his trial in the eastern city of Jinan, saying he had been framed on graft charges and forced to confess during interrogation.

Making his first public appearance since April last year, the 64-year-old former party boss of the industrial south-western city of Chongqing denied allegations that he took nearly 27m yuan (£2.8m) in illegal payments from two prominent businessmen, Xu Ming and Tang Xiaolin. Mr Bo, who is also accused of corruption and abuse of power, rubbished testimony from witnesses, including statements from his wife, Gu Kailai.

The court also said Ms Gu, who was convicted of the November 2011 murder of British businessman Neil Heywood, and their son, Bo Guagua, who is studying law at Columbia University in the US, had received bribes. It was the first time that authorities had named the younger Bo in the case against his father.

Analysts had expected the trial to be a smooth, quick affair with the verdict – which many believe to be already determined as guilty – coming within hours. Few had anticipated that Mr Bo would claim he was pressured into confessing to the bribery charges and attack those testifying, including Tang Xiaolin, whom he described as a “mad dog” whose evidence was “blasphemous … the ugly performance of a person selling his soul.”

“Regarding the matter of Tang Xiaolin giving me money three times, I once admitted it against my will under great pressure during the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection’s investigation against me,” Mr Bo told the court. “I am willing to bear the legal responsibilities, but at that time I did not know the circumstances of these matters, my mind was a blank.”

During his time as party boss in Chongqing, Mr Bo pursued a series of social programmes which were seen as harking back to the era of Mao Zedong, putting him on a collision course with the more capitalist, reformist approach espoused by the Beijing leadership.

The decision to strip Mr Bo of his offices last year – following the revelations about his wife’s connection to Mr Heywood’s death – has exposed rifts within the ruling party as well as Chinese society, and his trial marks the biggest political scandal since the 1976 downfall of the Gang of Four at the end of the Cultural Revolution. President Xi Jinping is keen to underline support for his economic reforms, and the leadership will want to limit any fallout from this scandal by finishing the trial as quickly as possible.

Mr Bo is also accused of embezzling 5m yuan (£520,000) from a government project in the north-eastern city of Dalian, where he served as mayor, the court said.

His wife, Gu Kailai, who was given a suspended death sentence for poisoning Mr Heywood over a business dispute, and who is widely believed to have made a deal with investigators to protect the couple’s son, testified that the bribe money went towards the younger Bo’s education at Harrow and Oxford, and other expenses in Britain. Mr Bo described her testimony as “absurd” and “laughable”.

Wearing a white, open-necked shirt, he looked considerably healthier than Ms Gu had during her trial last year. Court spokesman Liu Yanjie described Mr Bo as “emotionally stable and physically healthy” during the trial. But his signature swagger had gone.

Mr Bo’s former police chief in Chongqing, Wang Lijun, has also been jailed for trying to cover up the murder of Mr Heywood.

Xu Ming, the billionaire former chairman of the building materials firm Dalian Shide Group, appeared as a witness against Mr Bo. He was taken into custody after the Bo Xilai scandal broke. No charges have been brought against him, though he remains in detention. In court, he said he paid $3.2m for a villa on the French Riviera for Ms Gu’s use, as well as Bo family trips to Africa, and expenses for Bo Guagua. According to Mr Xu and prosecutors, Mr Bo helped him on business deals, including the purchase of a football team in Dalian in 2000.

Countering Mr Xu’s testimony, Mr Bo said he was unaware of any payments by Mr Xu to help Bo Guagua. He said he knew nothing of his wife’s business dealings and had relatively little to do with her after 2007 when they moved to Chongqing. “All I can say is Gu Kailai had mentioned that Xu Ming was nice to Guagua,” Mr Bo said.

Some observers speculated that the lively court action was aimed at showing that Mr Bo was getting a fair trial, but that the background was that he had struck a deal in exchange for a pre-arranged sentence. The trial is due to end today and the verdict is likely to be announced in early September, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Life and Style
Martha Stewart wrote an opinion column for Time magazine this week titled “Why I Love My Drone”
lifeLifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot... to take photos of her farm
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices