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

Photogallery South Africa Bans Travelers From Ebola-stricken Countries

South Africans returning from affected West African countries will be thoroughly screened, required to fill out medical questionnaire, health minister says More

Multimedia UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

Move aims to help thousands of Iraqi religious minorities who fled their homes as Kurdish, Iraqi government forces battle Sunni insurgents More

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

IT specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about disease More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbasi
X
Scott Stearns
August 21, 2014 9:20 PM
The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid