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

    Saudi Arabia’s New Female Politicians in the Other Room 

    Many in Saudi Arabia say elected representatives should share unsegregated spaces; according to a recent survey, more than half the Saudi population, both men and women, prefer to work in a segregated place

    Russia Not ‘Apologetic’ for Syria Airstrikes

    With Moscow criticized for targeting armed opponents of President Assad, Russia’s UN envoy says his country ‘acting in a very transparent manner’

    Pakistan Warns of Islamic State's Growing Reach

    Aftab Sultan, General Director General of Intelligence Bureau (IB), briefed Senate Committee in closed hearing, saying that IS-linked groups have been expanding in Pakistan

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    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.