China,on Saturday,braced for the verdict of its most politically sensitive trial involving disgraced Communist Party leader Bo Xilai,who till last year posed a major challenge to the current reformist leadership with efforts to revive hardline Maoist ideology.
The Intermediate People’s Court in Jinnan city,which conducted Bo’s unprecedented five day open trial last month,has said it would pronounce the verdict tomorrow.
Bo,64,is accused of bribery,embezzlement and abuse of power. Prosecution witnesses,including his wife Gu Kailai,charged him with accepting bribes worth 20 million Yuan,(about USD 3.5 million) and buying a villa in France.
He is also accused of abuse of power as the Communist Party head of Chongqing city to block a probe into Gu’s involvement in the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood in 2011. Gu was sentenced to death with two years reprieve last year.
The incident resulted in his associate,city police chief Wang Lijun,defecting to the US Consulate in Chengdu to escape reprisals from Bo for investigating Gu’s role in the murder.
Bo,facing several bribery and embezzlement charges as head of Dalian city and as Commerce Minister,was removed from power only after Wang’s incident came to light last year.
He was removed well in time before the once-in-a-decade leadership change last year,in which the current set of pro-reform leaders headed by Xi Jinping were elected.
Earlier Bo,the son of a former revolutionary leader,came to national attention for his penchant to play up revolutionary songs of the Maoist era on local television,giving an impression that he wanted to revive hardline Marxian ideology that has been diluted through large-scale economic reforms over the past three decades.
Bo vigorously contested and denied all charges against him and even wrote a letter to his relatives,saying he was prepared to face a long jail term.
Ahead of tomorrow’s verdict,state television highlighted the open trial,during which the court provided regular updates on its microblog – something unprecedented in China’s judicial history.
Besides Gu,former Railway Minister Liu Zhijun was given suspended death sentences. His case evoked national and international media interest in view of its political significance.