BEIJING— Ousted Chinese politician Bo Xilai kept up his fiery defense in court Sunday, accusing his former police chief Wang Lijun of being a "liar and fraudster" as the case heads for an unexpected fifth day Monday.
Wang Lijun’s flight to a U.S. consulate in Chengdu last year exposed the murder of a British businessman by Bo’s wife and ignited a political scandal that ended his political career.
In a brief session Sunday that lasted a little less than three hours, Bo defended himself against accusations that he abused his power by interfering with an investigation into his wife’s murder of Briton Neil Heywood.
Prosecutors laid out a lengthy attack on Bo. They said when Wang Lijun told Bo about his wife’s poisoning of Neil Heywood, Bo punched him so hard in the ear that his mouth bled.
They also argued that Bo violated procedure when he shortly afterwards stripped the police chief of his post and took other steps to block any further investigation into the case by those under Wang.
Bo said Wang was trying to set up Bo's wife, Gu Kailai. He also argued that Wang has already been convicted in court of trying to cover up Gu’s crimes. According to official accounts of Wang’s trial, he first hushed up the incident, but then later confronted Bo about the murder.
Bo said that his responses in the wake of the murder revelation were normal under the circumstances, including his decision to replace Wang. He also argued that he had not dismissed Wang, but given him an equally important job of handling matters of culture, technology and education.
Bo questioned Wang’s character on Sunday and his mental stability at the time, accusing him of being a liar and arguing that he lacked credibility as a witness.
“He is an extremely vile character, spreading rumors here and muddying waters,” Bo said, describing Wang during the hearing Sunday.
Such outbursts from Bo targeting prosecution witnesses have been commonplace in the trial, which has already lasted an unprecedented four days. Bo has called his wife “insane,” urged court officials to look into her mental state and argued that her testimony is not credible. Earlier, Bo called another witness of the prosecution a “mad dog."
In court Sunday Bo denied hitting Wang.
“Wang says he was punched and not slapped, but I’ve never practiced Chinese boxing and do not have the strength to hit Wang so hard,” Bo said.
Despite his feisty defense, Bo has admitted some mistakes during the trial. He told the court Saturday that he was partially responsible for Wang’s flight to the U.S. consulate, or as he put it, Wang’s defection. He said he was ashamed of his errors and the shame the defection attempt brought China.
Bo said he believed his wife was not involved in the murder because she showed him a death certificate at the time that had the signature of Heywood’s wife. The certificate stated that Heywood died of a heart attack after drinking too much, Bo said.
In testimony from Bo presented by the prosecution Saturday, Bo admitted in April that he also bore responsibility for more than $800,000 in funds transferred to his wife’s accounts. He said he was deeply ashamed and regretful about the incident for not trying to stop the transfer of funds or retrieve the money.
The proceedings of the trial have been closed to Western reporters, and only a handful of Chinese journalists have been allowed in the court. But many Chinese have been closely following the riveting details of the proceedings that have been posted on the social media site of eastern China’s Jinan Intermediate Court.
State media coverage of the trial has focused largely on Bo’s alleged crimes. Reports and editorials have already all but condemned him of the crimes he stands accused of, and a guilty verdict is widely expected.
The trial is likely to wrap up this week, but a verdict is not expected until early September.