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UPDATED: October 15, 2013 NO. 40, OCTOBER 3, 2013
Blow Dealt Against Corruption
One of the highest-ranking officials ever convicted
By Yuan Yuan

COURTSIDE: Bo Xilai is sentenced to life in prison for bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power by the Jinan Intermediate People's Court in Jinan, Shandong Province, on September 22 (XIE HUANCHI)

Bo Xilai was sentenced to life in prison on September 22 for bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power. The former member of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee Political Bureau and former Secretary of the CPC Chongqing Municipal Committee was deprived of political rights for life, and his personal assets were seized. The verdict was announced at the Jinan Intermediate People's Court in east China's Shandong Province.

The crimes

Bo was found guilty of taking bribes totaling 20.44 million yuan ($3.34 million), either personally or through his family members, between 1999 and 2012 when he served as mayor of the northeastern city of Dalian in Liaoning Province, as secretary of the CPC Dalian City Committee, as Liaoning governor and as minister of commerce.

In return for his bribes, Bo helped the Dalian International Development Co. Ltd., of which Tang Xiaolin was general manager at the time, in taking over the Dalian City Liaison Office in Shenzhen in south China's Guangdong Province and also helped Tang obtain quota licenses for importing cars.

Bo also granted Xu Ming, then Chairman of the Dalian Shide Group Co. Ltd., favors in the company's bid for the rights to a petrochemical project.

The court found that Bo directly accepted cash totaling 1.1 million yuan ($179,850) from Tang. He was aware of and showed no objection to the fact that his wife, Bogu Kailai, and their son, Bo Guagua, accepted monetary gains and properties worth 19.33 million yuan ($3.16 million) from Xu.

Bo was also found abusing his power in dealing with the fatal poisoning of British citizen Neil Heywood by his wife Bogu Kailai in Chongqing on November 13, 2011.

After Wang Lijun, Chongqing's then Vice Mayor and police chief, told Bo that Bogu Kailai was the main suspect in the murder of Heywood, Bo acted to remove Wang from the position of police chief. The verdict stated that Bo's actions were contributing factors in Wang's defection to the U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu, the Sichuan Province capital, on February 6, 2012. Bo's intervention was also cited as the reason the investigation into Heywood's murder was not handled in a timely and legal manner.

All these had caused adverse social impact and severe loss to the interests of the country and its people, the verdict stated.

Bo, 64, was expelled from the CPC and public office last September.

Judicial transparency

"Bo's trial illustrates China's determination to fight corruption in accordance with the rule of law," said Wang Yukai, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance. "No exception will be made when it comes to Party discipline and law. Violators will be severely punished no matter who is involved and no matter how high their posts are."

Attended by journalists and the public, the trial was more open than any previous legal proceedings concerning a senior official. A court spokesman was available to address the media during adjournments.

The court, in an unprecedented move, opened an official micro-blog account to publish transcripts from the trial, prompting heated discussion of the case among netizens.

During the court hearing, which was held on August 22-26, Bo and his lawyers applied their procedural rights, presenting and questioning the evidence and defending their statements. The court also summoned witnesses to testify on matters of interest. During the trial, both the prosecution and defense fully cross-examined the evidence and witnesses and expressed their views.

In their summarizing statement, prosecutors said the evidence presented in court and during cross-examination sufficiently demonstrated enough to charge Bo with the crimes he had been accused of.

"It was an upstanding demonstration of the principle that everybody is equal before the law," said Chen Weidong, a law professor at Beijing-based Renmin University of China. "The CPC's anti-corruption plan—to fight corruption through the legal system—has been demonstrated through this judicial progress."

Email us at: yuanyuan@bjreview.com

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