The long-awaited trial of disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai has begun amid heavy security in the eastern Chinese province of Shandong.

State-run media said the proceedings began in the provincial capital, Jinan, early Thursday and will last two days. It said a verdict is expected in early September.

Bo Xilai, a former member of the Communist Party's elite Politburo, is being tried for alleged corruption, bribery and abuse of power in what is the highest-profile Chinese political scandal in decades.

Analysts have said it is virtually certain the 64-year-old Bo will be found guilty. They say the verdict likely was decided beforehand by top party members.

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

Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, was later convicted of murdering the Briton in a failed financial deal. Wang, meanwhile, was convicted on charges including defection, abuse of power and taking bribes.

Bo had not been seen publicly in 17 months. He was kicked out of the Communist Party in September, when state media accused him of corruption, abuse of power, bribe taking and "improper" relations with a number of women.

Although Chinese state media released pictures of the courtroom in Jinan Wednesday before the proceedings began, no images of Bo were immediately released.