Chinese Communist "princeling" Bo Xilai, expected by many to take a key leadership position in the leadership transition of 2012, was expelled from the Communist Party in September after a career that saw him as Mayor of Dalian City, Minister of Commerce and Party Chief of the Chongqing municipality. His wife Gu Kailai received a suspended death sentence in August 2012 for murdering British business partner Neil Heywood.
Live blog: Bo Xilai leaves court for life imprisonment in elite prison
A Chinese court on Friday rejected fallen politician Bo Xilai’s appeal against his conviction and confirmed his life sentence, state media reported, a ruling likely to seal his fate as authorities look to close a damaging scandal.
Review our live coverage of the trial proceedings earlier today below or read this concise summary.
11.39am: The Shandong High People's Court releases the verdict on its website: Bo claimed he has written his earlier testimony under duress. He said he was not allowed to cross-examine a key witness, his wife Gu Kailai. He argued that his case is considered serious because his actions led to Wang Lijun's defection, but Wang Lijun received a more lenient sentence for the very defection.
11.35am: A court spokesperson said the court had thoroughly reviewed the first instance ruling and questioned Bo several times. The defence argued that the evidence was insufficient. 101 people were wtinessing the trial, including journalists and family members, he said.
11.28am: The press briefing begins: Spokesperson reading the verdict.
11.21am: Press briefing to start within a few minutes.
11.10am: The court is expected to hold a press briefing on the appeal trial soon at a nearby hotel.
11.01am: Family friends said five members from Bo's clan have attend the hearing, including brother Bo Xiyong, Bo Xicheng and Bo Xining, younger sister Bo Xiaoying and elder son Li Wangzhi.
10.44am: The court rejects Bo's appeal. His original sentence to life imprisonment is upheld, the Xinhua news agency says.
10.10am: Dozens of messages of support for "Party Secretary Bo" have circulated on microblogs over the last days. As of 10am, the conversation on Bo Xilai's hearing on Sina Weibo, the country's largest microblogging platform, has slowed to a standstill, only carrying posts by state media and selected commentators.
10.07am: Family members are attending the hearing, Phoenix TV says.
9.58am: Bo Xilai has arrived at court at 9.40am, state media say.
9.55am: Sources say family members are expected to attend the hearing.
9.41am: Four police vans arrive at the court house, including a black van resembling the one which took Bo Xilai to the Jinan Intermediate People's Court in September.
About 50 reporters are standing outside the court house.
8.30am: The 22nd chamber of the Shandong High People's Court is scheduled to hear Bo's appeal at 10am in a hearing open to the public. Only selected state-media journalists were allowed to attend Bo's trial and sentencing over the last two months.
Traffic restrictions outside the court house have been imposed between 6am and 1pm, indicating a short hearing.
Hong Daode, a law scholar at the China University of Political Science and Law, told Phoenix TV he expected the appeal to be rejected. The broadcaster says Bo is expected to appear in court in what is likely to be his last public appearance.
Bo Xilai's sentence in first instance:
- Bribery: Life imprisonment (minimum 10 years, maximum execution)
- Embezzlement: 15 years in prison (minimum 10 years, maximum execution)
- Abuse of power: Seven years in prison (maximum sentence)
Video - Bo's sentencing:
A review of previous high-level sentences:
- Former Minister of Railways Liu Zhijun was given a suspended death sentence on corruption charges in July.
He did not appeal.
- Bo's wife Gu Kailai received a suspended death sentence for the murder of Neil Heywood in August last year. Zhang Xiaojun, her aide, was sentenced to nine years in prison for procuring the poison.
They did not appeal.
- Former Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun was sentenced to 15 years in prison and deprived of his political rights for one year for "bending the law for selfish ends", defection, abuse of power and bribe-taking in September last year.
He did not appeal.
- Former mayor of Beijing Chen Xitong was sentenced to 16 years in prison on charges of corruption and dereliction of duty in July 1998.
His appeal was rejected.
- Former Shanghai Party Secretary Chen Liangyu was sentenced to 18 years in prison on charges of bribery and abuse of power in 2008.
He did not appeal.
- Mao Zedong's wife Jiang Qing was given a suspended death sentence on counterrevolutionary charges in 1980.
The Supreme People's Court commuted her sentence into life imprisonment in 1983.
Key players in Bo Xilai's trial:
- The last photo of Bo Xilai after the sentencing on September 22.
- Bo is shown in handcuffs on the day of his sentencing, September 22.
- The court shares the first photo of Bo Xilai since his last public appearance during the National People's Congress in March 2012:
- Former co-worker Tang Xiaolin's videotaped testimony screened in court:
- Former Dalian Shide Group Chairman Xu Ming's testimony in court. In 2005, he was China's eighth-richest man. Weibo react to the visible loss of weight since his disappearance with a joke: "Want to lose weight, go see the Central Discipline Inspection Commission".
- Gu Kailai's taped testimony:
- Former Chongqing Deputy Mayor Wang Lijun's testimony in court:
- Court deletes "superior orders" mention from a statement by the prosecution:
Defendant Bo Xilai ignored the facts in court, made unreasonable excuses in an attempt to confuse and mislead. For example, in the question of agreeing to issue a forged medical certificate for Wang Lijun, Bo Xilai repeatedly emphasised that this was based on superior orders. But as the evidence in the case shows, Bo Xilai's approval of the forged medical certificate was given earlier, and the mentioned six-item orders from above followed later, moreover, these instructions did not include forging a medical certificate. Bo’s defense mentioned above is an attempt to repudiate the truth in an effort to shirk responsibility.
- Bo's final statement to the court:
On the prosecution
"I think, the investigating organs' staff has put a lot of effort into finding ample evidence, they have compiled 90 volumes, I respect their work, this indeed is a vast and complex case, but how many of these 90 volumes have anything to do with me?"
On Gu Kailai
"I feel for Gu Kailai. She is a relatively weak woman. [... As she had been charged with murder] plus her economic situation [graft charges] ... she would certainly die [get the death penalty], but by telling on someone else she could soon get out. Who could she accuse? [This is why] all the accusations against me come from Gu Kailai."
On Wang Lijun
“The real reason, as Wang has confessed himself, is that he had hidden feelings for Gu Kailai. He was consumed with these feelings and couldn’t control himself. He had also confessed to Gu Kailai, he said so in his letter to Gu Kailai.”
“He knows my personality. He invaded my family, invaded my basic emotions. This is the real reason he defected. Wang Lijun wants to muddy up the water.”
- Bo Xilai's family members in court during the trial
- A graft probe into former Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang has been linked to Bo Xilai: details here.
Career moves and known property of the Bo family:
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