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Bo trial ends, China prosecutors demand heavy sentence
by Staff Writers
Jinan, China (AFP) Aug 26, 2013

Top cop fled after love for my wife was exposed: China's Bo
Jinan, China (AFP) Aug 26, 2013 - Fallen Chinese politician Bo Xilai told his trial Monday that the "real reason" his police chief fled to a US consulate, in an incident that exposed a lurid corruption scandal, was because he was unmasked as being in love with Bo's wife.

The drama, which has captivated China and shaken the ruling Communist Party, erupted when Wang Lijun, Bo's right-hand man in the southwestern megacity of Chongqing, tried to seek asylum following the murder of a British businessman.

Bo's wife Gu Kailai was later convicted of poisoning Neil Heywood in a Chongqing hotel room.

Bo told the final day of his corruption trial that Wang decided to flee into the arms of US diplomats because "he secretly loved Gu Kailai and he was confused and overwhelmed by this feeling".

Wang had made his feelings to Gu clear in a letter, Bo said, adding that on one occasion the policeman was so overcome with emotion that he "slapped himself in the face eight times".

"Gu Kailai said to him 'you're kind of weird'. He replied: 'I used to be weird, now I'm normal'."

During the trial Bo also confessed to having had extramarital affairs and said Gu moved to Britain because she was angry with him.

The revelations over the tangle of relationships were some of the most bizarre to emerge from Bo's trial in the eastern city of Jinan for bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power.

"He knew about my personality. And the real reason why he escaped is he harmed my family and my most important emotions. Wang Lijun really wanted to make things more complicated," Bo said.

He also referred to his police chief's attempted defection as a "drama" caused by the fact that Gu and Wang were "as close as paint and glue", a Chinese saying that commonly describes people who are in love.

The revelations were posted on regular but delayed transcripts of court proceedings on an official account on Sina Weibo, a Twitter equivalent, and were the first detailed accounts of the close personal relationships between the Bo family and Wang.

The trial began on Thursday and had initially only been expected to last two days. But it continued until Monday after Bo mounted a spirited defence.

The dramatic trial of fallen Chinese politician Bo Xilai ended Monday with prosecutors pushing for a heavy sentence over a murder and corruption scandal that shook the Communist Party.

Bo's crimes of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power were "extremely serious" and there were no mitigating factors, they said.

The description is a key factor in Chinese sentencing, where courts must generally find both conditions apply if they are to impose the death penalty.

Analysts widely believe that despite the drama of the five-day trial, which saw Bo mount a feisty defence, a guilty verdict is a foregone conclusion and a long prison sentence has already been agreed.

Bo, a populist leftist whose Maoist revivalism drew wide attention, was once the Communist chief of the southwestern megacity of Chongqing, one of the 25 highest-ranking members of the ruling party and tipped to ascend even higher.

The Intermediate People's Court in Jinan said on its verified account on Sina Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter, that it would hand down its verdict at a later date.

Under Chinese law the death penalty is available for cases of bribery involving more than 100,000 yuan ($16,000) and the prosecution told the court: "The defendant's crimes are extremely serious.

"He pleaded not guilty to the charges, and there are no extenuating circumstances suggesting lighter punishment. It must be dealt with severely according to the law."

In a final address to the court Bo struck an emotional note. "I'm trapped deep in the disaster of being in prison," he said. "I'm haunted by all sorts of feelings and all I have left is the remaining time of my life."

"I failed to keep my family members and subordinates within bounds. I made significant mistakes. I feel guilty towards the party and the public."

Throughout the trial -- originally expected to last only two days -- the court posted regular but delayed transcripts of the proceedings on its Weibo account, in a move hailed by state media as unprecedented transparency.

But no foreign media were present in the room and no independent verification was possible.

The delays in posting the transcripts lengthened as the trial went on, and Monday's posting of the prosecutor's address was taken down within minutes of being published.

It was reposted and taken down again, before being re-published once more with one section deleted.

In it, Bo had claimed to have been acting on orders from his "superiors" when he obtained a fake medical certificate about Wang Lijun, his police chief and right-hand man in Chongqing, who had fled to a US consulate.

Wang's attempt to seek asylum revealed the scandal surrounding the death of British businessman Neil Heywood, for which the politician's wife Gu Kailai was later convicted of murder.

During the proceedings Bo admitted mistakes relating to the investigation into Heywood's killing and "some responsibility" for embezzled state funds that were transferred to one of Gu's bank accounts, but denied all the charges against him.

He dismissed Gu as "insane", launched a scathing attack on Wang as "full of lies and fraud", and compared another prosecution witness to a "mad dog".

On Monday he said he had confessed while under interrogation because he "still had a hope at the time, which was to keep my party membership and to keep my political career alive"

"I have been just a working machine for the last 30 years and have not had time to look into minor details" of his family spending, he added.

Wang fled to the US consulate because he had been in love with Gu and had been "confused and overwhelmed" by his feelings, he said.

Bo's defiance over the course of the hearings astonished a public unfamiliar with the open airing of top-level intrigue and was in stark contrast to previous Chinese political trials, in which most defendants have humbly confessed their crimes in opaque court proceedings.

Margaret Lewis, professor at Seton Hall Law School in the US and an expert in Chinese law, pointed out: "In China, like many other countries, most defendants plead guilty, whether or not it is a case with political implications.

"In part this is because of a general policy in China of 'leniency for those who confess, severity for those who resist'."

The scandal that brought Bo down erupted in advance of a generational shift of power atop China's factionalised Communist Party.

Revelations of private jet flights, luxury villas and gifts of rare animal meats have held Chinese Internet users spellbound, with the court's weibo account gaining more than half a million followers over the course of the trial.

But virtually nothing was said publicly of Bo's links with other top communist leaders.

Bo's populism won supporters across China but alienated some top leaders of the ruling party, who saw his brash approach as a return to a bygone era of strongman rule.


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Bo trial may not win over China public: analysts
Jinan, China (AFP) Aug 26, 2013
Chinese authorities tried to present Bo Xilai's corruption trial as an unprecedented open display of fairness, but with limits on publication and references to other leaders conspicuously absent, they may yet fail in the court of public opinion. Bo, once head of the southwestern megacity of Chongqing and one of China's 25 most powerful politicians, had divided the Communist leadership with h ... read more

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