Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Bo Xilai to face trial this week

Bo Xilai is set to go on trial this week, a Chinese court says (AP)

Disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai will go on trial on Thursday on corruption charges in a case crafted to minimise damage to the Communist Party and avoid the exposure of party infighting or human rights abuses.

The announcement of a trial date for the former rising political star puts China's new leaders on track to wrap up a festering scandal as they try to cement their authority.

The former party secretary of the major city of Chongqing fell from power last year in China's messiest scandal in decades. It exposed the murder of a British businessman by Bo's wife and a thwarted defection bid by his former police chief.

Bo will stand trial in the Intermediate People's Court of the eastern city of Jinan on charges of taking bribes, embezzlement and abuse of power, said a one-sentence announcement on the court's microblog account. It was also carried by the official Xinhua News Agency.

Most trials in China last less than one day and Bo, 64, is almost certain to be convicted.

His downfall followed a failed defection attempt by his police chief at a US consulate. The chief exposed a litany of complaints against Bo that gave political rivals ammunition to attack him.

Bo, the son of a revolutionary leader, was a member of the party's 25-member Politburo. But he alienated other party leaders by aggressively promoting his personal image and launched campaigns in Chongqing that invoked the radical era of the 1960s and '70s.

The charges against Bo appeared to be crafted to make him look like a rogue leader. That would allow Chinese authorities to avoid questions about how the party's unchecked power enabled his misconduct.

The court could avoid allegations of wiretapping conducted by his former top aide and the use of torture in an anti-crime crackdown. Judges could avoid asking about asset seizures from Chongqing entrepreneurs.

"These charges were tailor-made for Bo Xilai in view of the sentence that they want him to get," said Zhang Lifan, a historian and political analyst in Beijing. They decided how long they wanted to have Bo Xilai locked up for, and then according to that sentence, they made the appropriate charges," he said. "But these charges have left out a lot of things that he is responsible for."

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