News / Asia

    China’s Bo Xilai Sentenced to Life in Prison

    China’s Bo Xilai Sentenced to Life in Prisoni
    X
    September 22, 2013 2:44 PM
    A court in China has sentenced fallen political star Bo Xilai to life in prison and found him guilty of all three charges brought against him. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    A court in China has sentenced fallen political star Bo Xilai to life in prison, finding him guilty of all of the three charges brought against him.

    The conclusion of the trial of Bo - one of China’s biggest political scandals in decades - came one online posting at a time. Much like during his trial in August, the Jinnan Intermediate People’s Court announced the verdict in near real time through its Twitter-like social media site, Weibo.
     
    In pictures posted on the court’s Weibo, Bo was seen wearing a white collared shirt, shackled in handcuffs and flanked by security guards. On state television he appeared to almost be smiling as the court read the verdict.
     
    Bo was sentenced to life in prison for bribery, 15 years for the charge of corruption and seven years for abuse of power. The court says it has confiscated more than $3 million in assets from the family, including a villa in the south of France.

    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
    The 64-year-old former Chongqing Communist Party boss was also stripped of his political rights and ability to hold office.

    Likely appeal
     
    Bo has 10 days to appeal the ruling. According to a report in the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post, he is likely to launch an appeal.
     
    The sentencing of Bo is being portrayed as a key accomplishment of China’s new leaders. President Xi Jinping has pledged to tackle official graft and go after officials no matter how high their rank. Critics, however, say the trial is more about ending Bo’s political career.
     
    Zhang Ming, a political scientist at Renmin University, said, “[His opponents] wanted to stop his political career and send the message to Bo's supporters that he is corrupt.”
     
    Bo’s rapid political decline began early last year when his chief of police in Chongqing, Wang Lijun, fled to a nearby U.S. consulate with information about Bo’s wife’s involvement in the murder of a British businessman. At the time, China was in the middle of a once-in-a-decade leadership reshuffle and Bo was poised to rise to a high-ranking post.

    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
    Pu Zhiqiang is a Beijing-based rights lawyer. He says that if the small amount of corruption Bo was charged with is the standard for going after officials in China, many others are just as guilty.
     
    “If it hadn’t been for Wang Lijun’s flight to consulate in Chengdu or the intense political struggle that followed in its wake, it’s unlikely that the government would do anything about such a small amount of corruption,” said Pu.

    Possible parole
     
    Although Bo has been sentenced to life in prison, he is eligible for parole in a little over a decade, according to Chinese law.  Political analysts say that it is likely that he could be released even sooner, much like other victims of political purges in the past.

    Pu said, “I find it hard to believe that a 60 something Bo Xilai will spend much time in jail. There will be some other kind of an arrangement made for him, much like Chen Xitong who was released on medical parole.”

    Chen Xitong, the former mayor of Beijing was sentenced to 16 years in prison in 1998 during an anti-corruption drive and released on medical parole in 2006.

    When most high-ranking Chinese politicians are accused of corruption, they break down in court and admit to their crimes and in return receive lighter sentences. Bo refused to acknowledge his guilt during the trial and launched a defiant defense. And that is one key reason why his sentence was so stiff, political analysts say.
     
    Political scientist Zhang Ming says an appeal is not likely to change Bo’s ruling.

    “His verdict is not going to change but the political environment could change," said Zhang. "And if that happens then he might be able to make a comeback.”
     
    Despite the charges against Bo, he is still widely popular in the areas he once served, particularly Chongqing. During his time there he worked to address China’s huge gap between the rich and the poor. His policies there were welcomed by the poor.

    He also launched a crackdown on organized crime that was praised by some but tainted by reports of torture and abuse of legal procedure. Those abuses, critics say, were much worse than the crimes he has been tried of in court.

    You May Like

    Multimedia Obama Calls on Americans to Help the Families of Its War Dead

    In last Memorial Day of his presidency, Obama lays wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora