News / Asia

    Bo Xilai Trial Begins in China

    In this image taken from video, disgraced politician Bo Xilai, center, stands in the courtroom, flanked by police guards at Jinan Intermediate People's Court in eastern China's Shandong province, Aug. 22, 2013.
    In this image taken from video, disgraced politician Bo Xilai, center, stands in the courtroom, flanked by police guards at Jinan Intermediate People's Court in eastern China's Shandong province, Aug. 22, 2013.
    Disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai has denied charges of bribery against him, as he stood trial Thursday in one of China's most explosive political scandals in decades. 
     
    Bo, who was in line to become one of China's top leaders, is also being tried for corruption and abuse of power related to the alleged cover up of his wife's murder of a British businessman.
     
    Gallo Q&A with Fred Wang of VOA's Mandarin Service who is covering Bo Xilai Trial
    Gallo Q&A with Fred Wang of VOA's Mandarin Service who is covering Bo Xilai Triali
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    Thursday's hearing focused primarily on charges that Bo illegally accepted over $4 million over the course of several years. In particular, Bo rejected charges that he took bribes from a real estate developer in the eastern city of Dalian.
     
    Bo Xilai  

    • Father Bo Yibo was one of the founders of the People's Republic of China
    • Bo Xilai joined the Communist Party in 1980
    • Was mayor of Dailan, governor of Liaoning province and commerce minister
    • Named leader of Chongqing city in 2007 and ascended to membership in the Politburo
    • Gained prominence for launching crackdown on corruption in Chongqing
    • Expelled form Communist Party in September, 2012
    • Found guilty of bribery, corruption and abuse of power in September, 2013, sentenced to life in prison
    Court excerpts show Bo, who served as mayor and party chief in Dalian, retracted an earlier confession about the bribery, saying his "mind was a blank" and he did not fully understand the charges against him.
     
    He also attacked the testimony of the developer, Tang Xiaolin, calling him a "crazy dog" and saying the developer was trying to frame him for the crime.
     
    Thursday's trial was the first time Bo, 64, had been seen in public since his arrest in March 2012. A picture released by the court showed him standing somberly, his hands folded, next to two policemen in the dock. 
     
    State broadcaster CCTV reported the trial in Jinan, the capital of eastern Shandong Province, will last two days and that a verdict is expected in early September. 
     
    The official Xinhua news agency said Bo expressed hope the proceedings can be held "in a reasonable and fair manner" and follow proper legal processes. 
     
    Outside the court, police blocked off streets with large plastic barriers. Nearby, a few Bo supporters who held a protest questioning the fairness of the trial were quickly scattered by police for a second straight day.
     
    • A black minivan (behind silver Mercedes minivan) believed to be carrying disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai arrives at the Jinan Intermediate People's Court ahead of the fifth day of Bo's trial in Jinan, Shandong province, August 26, 2013. 
    • A policeman guards the entrance of the Jinan Intermediate People's Court in Jinan, Shandong province, August 26, 2013. 
    • A minivan believed to be carrying disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai leaves the Jinan Intermediate People's Court after the end of the fifth day of Bo's trial in Jinan, Shandong province, August 26, 2013. 
    • A minivan (C) believed to be carrying disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai arrives at the Jinan Intermediate People's Court ahead of the fifth day of Bo's trial in Jinan, Shandong province, August 26, 2013. 
    • Bo Xilai leaves the Jinan Intermediate People's Court building in a vehicle in Jinan, Shandong province in this photo taken by Kyodo, August 23, 2013.
    • Gu Kailai is seen in a still image taken from an August 10, 2013 video provided by the Jinan Intermediate People's Court, recorded at an unknown location and screened on August 23, 2013 during Bo Xilai's trial.
    • In this photo released by the Jinan Intermediate People's Court, disgraced politician Bo Xila is flanked by police officers during his trial at the court in eastern China's Shandong province, August 22, 2013.
    • A TV screen shows a news report of disgraced politician Bo Xilai standing in the courtroom, flanked by police guards at Jinan Intermediate People's Court in eastern China's Shandong province, in Hong Kong, August 22, 2013.
    • A man wearing a t-shirt with a picture of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong holds a fan with the words "Bo Xilai" near the Jinan Intermediate People's Court in Jinan, August 22, 2013.
    • A supporter holds a placard during a rally behind a police barricade near the Jinan Intermediate People's Court, August 22, 2013. (Dongfang/VOA)
    • A woman protests outside the Jinan Intermediate People's Court in Jinan, eastern China's Shandong province, August 21, 2013.
    • Chinese police officers attempt to remove a woman protesting with the words "unjust" written on a banner outside the Jinan Intermediate People's Court in Jinan, August 21, 2013. (Dongfang/VOA)
    • Chinese police officers march out of the Jinan Intermediate People's Court in Jinan in eastern China's Shandong province, August 21, 2013.
    • Chinese police officers march out of the Jinan Intermediate People's Court in Jinan in eastern China's Shandong province, August 21, 2013.
    • Chinese police officers march out of the Jinan Intermediate People's Court in Jinan in eastern China's Shandong province, August 21, 2013.

    Though state media said 19 journalists were allowed into the courtroom, foreign media were kept out and the trial was not televised, reflecting the government's sensitivity about the case.
     
    Fred Wang with VOA's Mandarin service is with other journalists watching the proceedings from a media center set up at a hotel near the court. 
     
    "We waited in a newsroom for about three to four hours, just watching Weibo, the Chinese Twitter, to release one picture after another," Wang said. "We didn't have any access [to the courtroom] at all. Then a spokesman just read a news release and didn't answer any questions."
     
    But official government microblogs did provide what some called an unprecedented, real-time account of the proceedings, as prosecutors laid out the charges against Bo. 
     
    Kerry Brown, who heads the University of Sydney's China Studies Center, said the move reflects the Communist Party's acknowledgement that the scandal is on the mind of China's population.
     
    "It shows the media terrain has changed in China. I think there is a sort of appetite to know about this case, and the party has to satisfy that," Brown said.
     
    Despite the increased openness, there is little doubt among China watchers that Bo will be found guilty. Brown, a former British diplomat in Beijing, said the outcome has already been decided by the top members of the party.
     
    "This is not a trial that we can foresee Bo walking free from this court in Jinan. It's just not going to happen. I think we all know that this has been predetermined," Brown said.
     
    Timeline of the Bo Xilai Scandal

    2012
    • February 2: Bo's key ally and Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun is demoted
    • February 6: Wang visits U.S. consulate in Chengdu
    • March 15: Bo dismissed as Chongqing party chief
    • March 26: Britain asks China to investigate November death of Briton Neil Heywood in Chongqing
    • April 10: Bo suspended from Communist Party posts. China says Gu is being investigated for Heywood's death
    • August 20: Gu given suspended death sentence after confessing to Heywood's murder
    • September 24: Wang convicted of defection, power abuse and bribe taking
    • September 28: Communist Party expels Bo


    2013
    • July 25: Bo indicted for bribery, corruption, abuse of power
    • August 22: Bo trial begins in Jinan
    • September 22: Bo sentenced to life in prison
    Bo is a former member of the Communist Party's 25-member Politburo and ex-party chief of the southwest megacity, Chongqing. Before his downfall, he was thought to be a top contender for the elite Politburo Standing Committee at a leadership transition last year.
     
    His downfall began last February, when his police chief Wang Lijun fled to the U.S. consulate in Chengdu. There he told American diplomats about Bo's alleged role in covering up the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.
     
    Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, was later convicted of murdering the Briton following a failed financial deal. Wang, meanwhile, was convicted on charges including defection, abuse of power and taking bribes.
     
    Prosecutors on Thursday said Bo's son, Bo Guagua, and his wife were involved in accepting some the bribes. When testimony was presented that his wife, Gu Kailai, had acknowledged receiving some of the money, Bo dismissed her testimony as "laughable."
     
    Until now, it was unclear how to what extent Gu Kailai's testimony would play in Bo's trial. Recent media reports had suggested that Gu had agreed to testify in order to reach a deal to protect their son, who is studying in the United States.

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    Comment Sorting
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    by: YourErros from: Do
    August 22, 2013 8:39 AM
    Prosecutors on Thursday said Bo's son, Bo Guagua, and his wife were involved in accepting some the bribes. Should be?: Prosecutors on Thursday said Bo's son, Bo Guagua, and his wife were involved in accepting some OF the bribes. Until now, it was unclear how to what extent Gu Kailai's testimony would play in Should be?: Until now, it was unclear XX to what extent Gu Kailai's testimony would play in

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