Bo Xilai's corruption trial opens in China

Aug. 21, 2013 at 11:48 PM
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JINAN, China, Aug. 21 (UPI) -- Bo Xilai, the fallen high-ranking Chinese Communist Party official whose case kicked up a huge political scandal, went on trial Thursday on numerous charges.

The arrival of the 64-year-old disgraced politician in an Intermediate People's Court in Jinan in east China's Shandong province amid tight security to face charges of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power was the first time he has been seen in public since his arrest in March 2012. However, despite his absence from the public, his case has continued to stir much interest across the world because of his fast rise in the party hierarchy and the power he wielded before his precipitous fall.

China's official Xinhua News Agency reported the long-awaited trial of Bo started at 8:43 a.m. local time and updates were being provided by the court through micro blog postings.

Xinhua carried numerous glossy, color photos of the courthouse, security personnel with their canine patrols and even a barely visible announcement on a wall about the trial.

The indictment delivered to the Jinan court said Bo took advantage of his position "as a civil servant to seek gains for others, as well as accepted bribes in the form of large amounts of money and property. He was also accused of embezzling "a large amount of public money and abused his power, seriously harming the interests of the state and people."

Xinhua said Bo had been informed of his legal rights and interviewed by prosecutors.

Prior to his downfall, Bo had headed the party in Chongqing province and at the time he had been seen as likely to reach the top of the party leadership ladder, including being named to the powerful seven-member Politburo Standing Committee.

His downfall began last year following a series of scandals that included his equally prominent and lawyer wife being implicated in the killing of a British businessman.

Bo was expelled from the party and removed from public office by the Political Bureau of the party Central Committee as accusations against him piled up. Bo had also served as mayor of Dalian, governor of northeastern China's Liaoning province and China's minister of commerce

The case of Bo became one more for China's new leadership led by President Xi Jinping, which has vowed to severely crack down on official corruption, a problem recognized openly by the leaders as being so widespread to pose a threat to the country's economic stability and stir up public outrage.

Earlier, the South China Post had quoted Beijing lawyer Li Zhuang as saying Bo had been accused of taking more $3.2 million in bribes and embezzling $814,000.

While Bo remained in custody, his wife, Gu Kailai, and Bo's former police chief both were sentenced to long prison terms last year in a murder case resulting from the poisoning of British businessman Neil Heywood.

The BBC quoted CCTV that Bo's court hearings were expected to last two days and that a verdict was likely in September.

A statement from Bo's son, Bo Guagua, this week expressed hope that Bo would have a chance "to answer his critics and defend himself without constraints of any kind."

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