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
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind-the-scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
News
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
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

C# Algo-Developer (BDD/TDD, ASP.NET, JavaScript, RX)

£45000 - £69999 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Algo-Develo...

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, Apache Mahout, Python,R,AI)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Data Scientist (SQL,Data mining, data modelling, PHD, AI)

£50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...

Java Developer - 1 year contract

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone