September 29, 2012 2:57:56 am
Chinese leaders announced on Friday that Bo Xilai,a disgraced Communist Party aristocrat,had been expelled from the party and would be prosecuted on criminal charges,a move that effectively ends his remarkable political career.
Bo is accused,among other things,of playing some role in the murder of a British businessman by his wife and taking massive bribes directly and through his family,according to Xinhua,the state news agency.
The Xinhua report also said the 18th Party Congress,an event climaxing Chinas once-a-decade leadership transition,is scheduled to start on November 8,a week after the start of a party planning session and two days after the United States presidential election.
The most watched part of the transition will be the announcement of who will get seats on the Politburo Standing Committee,an elite body that governs China by consensus and whose membership could be reduced to seven from nine this year.
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The two announcements ended months of speculation over two towering issues how the party would handle the most critical player in the one of the biggest political scandals in decades and when it would be ready to install a wave of new leaders,including Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang,the men expected to become president and prime minister.
The son of one of Chinas revered revolutionary leaders,Bo,63,the former party chief of the southwest metropolis of Chongqing,was one of the most powerful politicians in China and considered a contender for the standing committee before investigators began looking early this year into a murder plot involving his wife,Gu Kailai,and a British business associate,Neil Heywood.
Gu was convicted last month of murdering Heywood by poisoning and given a suspended death sentence,which means she will likely serve a life term.
The announcements came after a Politburo meeting in Beijing on Friday.
The Xinhua report had a long list of accusations against Bo. The most serious appeared to be those relating to bribes and the Heywood murder,though no specific information was given. The report said he violated party discipline for many years. It also said investigators found Bo had inappropriate sexual relationships with multiple women, without giving names.
Li Zhuang,a lawyer who served an 18-month prison sentence in Chongqing during Bos crackdown after being found guilty of suborning perjury,welcomed the announcement of the accusations against Bo.
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