Bo retracts bribery confession
Ousted politician Bo Xilai recanted a confession of bribery when prosecutors alleged he used his wife and son to help collect more than £2.5 million in illicit funds as he stood trial in China's biggest political scandal in decades.
Court officials released frequent microblog updates on the testimony in an unusual display of openness for a major political trial, suggesting that ruling Communist Party officials were confident of minimising damage from a scandal that exposed a murder and high-level infighting among China's elite.
Bo denied taking payments from Tang Xiaolin, the general manager of an international development corporation in the north-eastern city of Dalian, where Bo once held key posts, though he said he had previously admitted to party investigators that he had done so.
Bo was quoted as saying in one of the Sina Weibo posts by the Jinan Intermediate People's Court: "The matter of me taking money on three occasions, as Tang Xiaolin said, does not exist. During the time I was being investigated by the Central Disciplinary Commission, I once admitted to this matter against my will ... However, at the time, I had absolutely no knowledge of the nature of the matter, my mind was a total blank.
"I hope the judge will reasonably and fairly judge, and judge this according to the laws of our country."
Once the powerful party boss in the city of Chongqing, the charismatic Bo became the most senior leader to fall from power in years after revelations emerged that his wife had killed a British businessman, making the Bo family an international diplomatic liability for the Chinese leadership.
The charges against him include abuse of power in covering up that murder, as well as bribery and embezzlement.
The accusations appear carefully calibrated to lay blame on the self-serving actions of Bo and his family and provide enough culpability to bury his political career, while avoiding allegations that could expose the party's factional squabbling or show the impunity with which top Chinese officials operate before they fall from favour.
Prosecutors gave new details of the allegations against Bo and his family, including accusations that Bo used both his wife, Gu Kailai, and his son, Bo Guagua, as intermediaries in accepting £2 million in Dalian. They also alleged that Bo instructed an underling to keep quiet a payment to the city of £500,000, and that he diverted it into personal funds with the help of his wife.
Although reporters from foreign media were banned from the courtroom, officials said 19 journalists attended the proceedings.