World News

    China Releases Video Testimony of Ousted Politician Bo's Wife

    A Chinese court trying former Communist Party politician Bo Xilai has released video testimony of his wife in an attempt to bolster the claim that he knowingly accepted bribes.

    In the pre-recorded, 11-minute video, Gu Kailai said her husband was aware that a wealthy businessman had given the family gifts, including airline tickets, expensive seafood and cash.

    Bo, who is also charged with embezzlement and abuse of power, has vigorously denied the bribery allegations. On Thursday, the first day of the trial, he dismissed his wife's testimony as "laughable."

    The official Xinhua news agency says Bo on Friday denied his wife's testimony by doubting her mental condition. It says he claimed "she is mad and always tells lies."

    It is the first time Gu has been seen since she was convicted last year of killing a British businessman over a failed financial dispute, in a scandal that eventually led to Bo's dramatic downfall.

    VOA Mandarin Service's Fred Wang, who is watching the trial from a media center near the court in the eastern city of Jinan, says the prosecution is trying to use Gu's testimony to weaken Bo's case that he was not aware of her dealings.



    "Can you just by these facts make a conclusion that Bo Xilai took a bribe? I don't know. It's kind of yes and no. But Bo Xilai's wife's testimony testimony will damage her husband's reputation."



    Government-run microblogs on Thursday gave a real-time account of the proceedings and posted court transcripts, providing an unexpected level of transparency for a sensitive trial that is one of the country's most closely watched in decades.

    Wang says that information largely dried up as the second day of the hearing began, possibly because Chinese authorities were concerned about the level of public attention given to Bo's defiance of authorities.



    "This (trial) is very popular. Three hundred million people are probably watching on Weibo. I think there might be a disagreement among the top leaders, so that is why there was nothing the whole morning."



    The trial is not televised and foreign journalists have been barred, though 19 members of state media have been allowed inside. Foreign media have been relegated to watching official microblogs and selectively released videos on large-screen television from a nearby hotel.

    Analysts say China's top political leaders almost certainly decided beforehand that Bo will be found guilty and receive a lengthy prison sentence, as in other sensitive political trials in China.

    Steve Tsang with Britain's University of Nottignham tells VOA that this will not likely change, even if Bo manages to present a convincing case.



    "A trial of a former Politburo member is of such importance to the Communist Party, that it is above the pay grade of any judge in China to be put in charge of. The verdict will have to be agreed on beforehand by the Politburo or the Standing Committee. Bo Xilai knows that."



    Bo's 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 his wife's murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.

    A former Politburo member, Bo was stripped of his political posts and kicked out of the Communist Party shortly after the scandal erupted. His wife was later given a suspended death sentence.

    Thursday's hearing saw Bo firmly reject charges that he accepted millions of dollars in bribes over the course of several years from a real estate developer in the eastern city of Dalian.

    Bo 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, calling him a "crazy dog" and saying the developer was trying to frame him for the crime.

    Thursday's trial was the first time the 64-year-old Bo 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 originally reported that the trial will only last two days and that a verdict is expected in early September.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees with Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees with Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.