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August 24, 2013

Bo Xilai Admits Mistakes in Murder Probe



Ousted Chinese politician Bo Xilai admitted in court Saturday that he made mistakes in responding to reports linking his wife to the 2011 murder of a British businessman. Bo, however, says he did not engage in criminal activity.

Bo, whose corruption trial resumes Sunday, told the court he is "ashamed" of his errors, which he said occurred after his former top aide, Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun, informed him that his wife had killed Briton Neil Heywood.

Bo said he responded to the information by slapping the police chief in the face because he initially thought Wang was trying to frame his wife, Gu Kailai, for the crime. Gu was later convicted of the November 2011 murder and is now serving a life sentence.

Saturday's proceedings included testimony from Wang, who said he fled to the U.S. embassy after his confrontation with Bo, because he feared for his safety.

Bo is also facing corruption charges for allegedly embezzling state funds. He has formally denied stealing $800,000 from a government building project that ended up in his wife's account.



With the proceedings in Jinan closed to Western journalists, reports of trial testimony
come from state media and lengthy trial transcripts posted on Chinese social media.

Bo was removed as party secretary of Chongqing and ousted from the Politburo last year following police chief Wang's reports to U.S. diplomats about the Bo family's involvement in the murder. Wang himself is serving a 15-year prison term for allegedly covering up the Heywood killing.

On Friday, Chinese authorities posted a dramatic video online in which Bo's imprisoned wife said he was aware that a wealthy businessman had given the family a string of expensive gifts, described by prosecutors as bribes. The prerecorded video provided the public's first glimpse of Gu since her sentencing last year.

Analysts say it is almost certain that China's top political leaders decided before Bo's trial even began that he would be found guilty and receive a lengthy prison sentence -- a routine outcome in sensitive political trials in China.

It is not clear when the trial will conclude. But Chinese media reports say a verdict is not expected before early September.