News / Asia

Trial to Spotlight Bo's Chongqing Security Chiefs

A scandal that ruined the career of prominent Chinese Communist Party leader Bo Xilai, and led to murder charges against his wife, has widened to include four of his former security chiefs being charged with covering up the crime.
 
A statement from the court in eastern China's Hefei city said the trial - which began Friday - is for the four men, who held senior security roles in the central city of Chongqing while Bo served as its Communist Party chief.
 
James Feinerman, the co-director of Georgetown Law School’s Asia program, said drawing the police into the case could lead to Bo’s own indictment.
 
“If you want to conclusively nail down the lid on Bo Xilai’s coffin, one of the things that you would do is admit in open court to having conspired to do this, and then the obvious implication is that Bo Xilai was overseeing this, or at least was informed of what they were doing,” he said.                                                                    
Bo Xilai, left, Beijing, 2005; British businessman Neil Heywood, Beijing, 2010; Gu Kailai, wife of Bo.Bo Xilai, left, Beijing, 2005; British businessman Neil Heywood, Beijing, 2010; Gu Kailai, wife of Bo.
x
Bo Xilai, left, Beijing, 2005; British businessman Neil Heywood, Beijing, 2010; Gu Kailai, wife of Bo.
Bo Xilai, left, Beijing, 2005; British businessman Neil Heywood, Beijing, 2010; Gu Kailai, wife of Bo.
Implicated in Cover Up

Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, appeared at a brief trial Thursday on charges she conspired with a family butler to poison British businessman Neil Heywood in a Chongqing hotel room last November. The court said the four Chongqing security officials have been charged with covering up Gu's role in the incident and "bending the law to achieve personal benefit."
 
There was no verdict announced after the trial of Gu and the butler, Zhang Xiaojun, at the Hefei court. Heywood was a business partner of Gu's, and prosecutors said she killed him after a financial dispute. A court official later said Gu did not deny the allegations against her, but she has never publicly given her side of the story.
 
The disclosure of charges against Bo Xilai's former security chiefs is the first time the Chinese government has publicly implicated them in the scandal. The central government removed Bo from his Chongqing post in March for unspecified offenses after his wife was accused of murder. But he has not been publicly charged in the case.
Timeline of the Bo Xilai Scandal

  • Feb. 2:    Bo's key ally and Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun is demoted
  • Feb. 6:    Wang visits U.S. consulate in Chengdu, reportedly to seek asylum
  • Mar. 2:    Xinhua says Wang is under investigation
  • Mar. 9:    Bo defends himself and his wife, Gu Kailai, at a press conference at the National People's Congress
  • Mar.15:   Bo dismissed as Chongqing party chief
  • Mar. 26:  Britain asks China to investigate November death of Briton Neil Heywood in Chongqing
  • Apr. 10:  Bo suspended from Communist Party posts.  China says his wife is being investigated for Heywood's death
  • Apr. 17:  New York Times reports U.S. officials held Wang so he could be handed to Beijing authorities instead of local police.
  • Jul. 26:   Bo's wife, Gu kailai, charged with the murder of Briton Neil Heywood
  • August 9: Gu Kailai's trial begins in Hefei.

Security Chiefs Linked to Bo

The four men due on trial Friday include the former deputy chief of Chongqing's Public Security Bureau, Guo Weiguo, the former chief of the bureau's criminal section, Li Yang, and former security officials Wang Pengfei and Wang Zhi. The defendants had served under former public security bureau chief Wang Lijun, who first revealed the murder allegations against Gu to U.S. diplomats in February.
 
Wang and his deputies had worked under Bo's authority for years, dating back to Bo's tenure as governor of the northeastern province of Liaoning in the early 2000s. They followed Bo to Chongqing after he became municipal party chief in 2007.
 
Bo and Wang carried out a so-called “smash black” campaign against corruption and crime in Chongqing, a crackdown critics say included unlawful practices like framing suspects, forcing confessions and extorting potential targets.
 
Containing the Case
 
Jacques deLisle, a China legal expert with the University of Pennsylvania Law School, says the Chinese Communist Party is likely looking for a way to hold Bo accountable for some misbehavior without examining all of his practices.
 
“The easiest charge to bring against him politically is covering up Gu’s crime because that’s a one-off. If you get into things like he used the police to systematically go after enemies and highly corrupt activities, then you [raise the point that] that goes on with a lot of Chinese officials,” he said.

Chinese officials are not commenting on the trial, and state media has done little reporting, leaving much open to speculation.

Feinerman says there is also a chance the police officials could say they acted on their own will. Whichever direction the trial takes, he says Chinese officials are looking to clean up the police administration in Chongqing, which was called into question after its chief, Wang, fled to a U.S. consulate.

“They had to go back through it and try and see up and down who was allied with Wang Lijun and who was taking orders from Bo Xilai, and make sure they had people who were going to be more loyal to the center,” he said.

Getting the police and Bo’s allies in line is crucial to ensuring a smooth leadership transition during November’s Communist Party Congress, according to Feinerman.

“The problem that they [Chinese leaders] face is there are still people who were allied with Bo Xilai or leftists who took heart in what seemed to be his coming rise who need to be tamped down to make sure there will be a smooth transition without a lot of factionalism,” he said.

Security Tight in Hefei
 
During the one-day trial of Gu Kailai and her co-defendant, uniformed and plainclothes police were deployed in neighborhoods and even shopping malls around the courthouse.
 
Reporter Shannon Van Sant said a group of about 20 people showed up at the courthouse in Thursday morning and spoke with reporters about their support for Bo Xilai, whom they saw as an alternative to what they referred to as China's current corrupt leadership.
 
“Initially there were some undercover police and thugs tried to block cameras with their umbrellas,” Van Sant said. “Eventually some other police came over as the people started speaking more forcefully and more passionately of their support for Bo Xilai.” Van Sant said the police beat several protesters, and eventually forced at least two men inside one of their cars.
 
Bo Xilai was previously widely expected to be in line for a seat at the Standing Committee of the party’s Politburo. During his tenure in Chongqing, he led a controversial revival of Communist themes and tried to clean up the city by planting trees and cracking down on organized crime. He was considered a popular politician among residents.
 
  • In this photo released by the Jinan Intermediate People's Court, Bo Xilai is handcuffed and held by police officers as he stands at the court in Jinan, in eastern China's Shandong province, Sept. 22, 2013.
  • A minivan believed to be carrying Bo Xilai arrives at the Jinan Intermediate People's Court ahead of the fifth day of Bo's trial, August 26, 2013. 
  • In this image taken from video, Bo Xilai addresses a court at Jinan Intermediate People's Court in eastern China's Shandong province, Aug. 24, 2013.
  • A woman protests outside the Jinan Intermediate People's Court, eastern China's Shandong province, August 21, 2013.
  • Gu Kailai, wife of Bo Xilai, is seen in a still image taken from an August 10, 2013 video provided by the Jinan Intermediate People's Court.
  • Policemen are seen at a court building where the trial for Bo Xilai was held in Jinan, Shandong province.
  • Former police chief Wang Lijun speaks during a court hearing in Chengdu, China, in this still image taken from CCTV video, Sept. 18, 2012.
  • This video image taken from CCTV shows Gu Kailai, wife of Bo Xilai, being taken into the Intermediate People's Court in the eastern Chinese city Hefei, August 9, 2012.
  • Police officers stand guard at the Hefei City Intermediate People's Court for the murder trial of Gu Kailai, Anhui Province, China, August 9, 2012.
  • A  combonation photo showing Neil Heywood and Gu Kailai.
  • Bo Xilai, walks past Communist Party leaders at the National People's Congress in Beijing, March 9, 2012.
  • Bo Xilai, right and his son, Bo Guagua, 2007.

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Steven from: China
August 10, 2012 5:25 AM
Please liberate us, all the Chinese people

by: Agutonpa from: Tibet
August 09, 2012 11:03 PM
25 persons rule the over 1 billion Chinese--of these 12 are above the rule of law. So Bo and Gu coulda been contenders!!

We know how popular is psycho drugging of prisoners in China--I think poor Gu has had a shot of what millions of Chinese undergo--food, drugs and brainwashing that improves on Stalin's kangaroo courts.

Free China! Free Tibet!!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More