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    Wife of Bo Xilai Testifies Against Him

    Prosecutors in the trial of Communist Party politician Bo Xilai have released damaging video testimony, from his wife, that they say bolsters the claim he knowingly accepted bribes.

    A court official said the hearing in Shandong province lasted about four hours Friday.

    In the pre-recorded, 11-minute video, Gu Kailai said her husband was aware that a wealthy businessman had given the family gifts, including airline tickets, expensive seafood and cash.

    Bo, who is also charged with embezzlement and abuse of power, has vigorously denied the bribery allegations and dismissed his wife's testimony as "laughable."

    The official Xinhua news agency says Bo on Friday denied his wife's testimony by doubting her mental condition. It says he claimed "she is mad and always tells lies."

    The video provided the public's first glimpse of Gu since she was convicted last year of killing a British businessman. The deadly scandal over a failed financial dispute eventually led to Bo's dramatic downfall.



    VOA Mandarin Service's Fred Wang, who is watching the trial from a media center near the court in the eastern city of Jinan, says the prosecution is trying to use Gu's testimony to weaken Bo's case that he was not aware of her dealings.



    "Can you just by these facts make a conclusion that Bo Xilai took a bribe? I don't know. It's kind of yes and no. But Bo Xilai's wife's testimony will damage her husband's reputation."



    The trial, which began Thursday, is not televised and foreign journalists have been barred, although 19 members of state media have been allowed inside. Foreign media have been relegated to watching official microblogs and selectively released videos on large-screen television from a nearby hotel.

    Analysts say China's top political leaders almost certainly decided beforehand that Bo will be found guilty and receive a lengthy prison sentence, as in other sensitive political trials in China.

    Steve Tsang with Britain's University of Nottingham tells VOA that this will not likely change, even if Bo manages to present a convincing case.



    "A trial of a former Politburo member is of such importance to the Communist Party, that it is above the pay grade of any judge in China to be put in charge of. The verdict will have to be agreed on beforehand by the Politburo or the Standing Committee. Bo Xilai knows that."



    Bo's downfall began last February when his police chief, Wang Lijun, fled to the U.S. consulate in Chengdu. There, he told American diplomats about Bo's alleged role in covering up his wife's murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.

    A former Politburo member, Bo was stripped of his political posts and kicked out of the Communist Party shortly after the scandal erupted. His wife was later given a suspended death sentence.

    Bo retracted an earlier confession about the bribery, saying his "mind was a blank" and he did not fully understand the charges against him. He also attacked the testimony of the developer, calling him a "crazy dog" and saying the developer was trying to frame him for the crime.

    State broadcaster CCTV originally reported that the trial will only last two days and that a verdict is expected in early September.

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