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.
William Ide
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

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that was eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports on how one band is bringing Yiddish tango to Los Angeles.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid