Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

China's Bo appeals against verdict

Fallen Chinese politician Bo Xilai is appealing against his conviction (AP)

Disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai has appealed against his guilty verdict, in a rare move that is consistent with his defiant stance but unlikely to change the outcome.

A source close to the case said the former Politburo member made the appeal to an intermediate court on Sunday when it convicted him of embezzlement, bribery and abuse of power and sentenced him to life in prison. Bo denied all charges during the trial.

The source said a written appeal to the higher court - Shandong Provincial Supreme People's Court - would be submitted soon.

An appeal is unlikely to succeed because the verdict is believed to be a decision of China's highest leadership, which controls the court system.

The guilty verdict has ended the political career of Bo, once an up-and-coming political star but whose political ambition and penchant for publicity ran foul of China's consensus rule and posed a challenge to Xi Jinping, who was to ascend to China's top leadership position, in a power transition last year.

Bo's downfall was set in motion by his wife's murder of British business associate Neil Heywood, followed by his police chief's failed attempt to defect to a US consulate.

A populist politician, Bo still has grassroots support in regions where he once ruled because of his campaigns against organised crime and social welfare policies such as affordable housing.

Observers say Bo's appeal is a political statement more than anything. "He must safeguard his position as the helmsman of the left," said Li Weidong, a former magazine editor in Beijing.

During the trial, Bo denied all charges, blaming the corruption on others in his inner circle, including his wife, and expressed no contrition, in a departure from the choreographed proceedings of other recent political trials. After the verdict against him, Bo expressed his dissatisfaction and protested aloud in the courtroom that the verdict was "unjust".

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