Bo Xilai to go on trial on corruption and power abuse charges this week
Disgraced politician will face court in Jinan, Shandong province, to answer allegations of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power
The long-awaited trial of disgraced Politburo member Bo Xilai will open on Thursday in the capital of Shandong province, Xinhua reported yesterday.
Bo, whose downfall last year was China's most explosive political scandal in decades, will stand trial in the Intermediate People's Court in Jinan for alleged bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power.
"The open trial will start at 8.30am on August 22 at its 5th courtroom," Xinhua said, quoting the court announcement.
It was not clear whether Gu Kailai, Bo's lawyer wife who received a suspended death sentence over the murder of Briton Neil Heywood, would testify. "It cannot be ruled out that Gu will testify at the hearing," said a legal source with direct knowledge of the case, adding the family members of both Bo and Gu would possibly attend the trial.
The source said the trial was likely to last longer than one day.
Another source with close ties to the Bo family said that Bo, who has been in detention since April last year, gave authorities a list of five family members he would like to attend his trial.
They are elder brother Bo Xiyong; son Li Wangzhi from his first marriage; younger sister Bo Xiaoying; and younger brothers Bo Xicheng and Bo Xining.
Gu Wangjiang, Gu Kailai's sister, is also likely to attend the hearing after the authorities rejected the request of their mother Fan Chengxiu to appear in the courtroom, said the source.
The source, a lawyer who has known Bo's family for years, said the abuse of power charge the former Chongqing party chief faced related to his sacking of his former right-hand man, Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun, without Ministry of Public Security approval.
A mainland media source said the charge also related to his attempt to cover up his wife's murder case.
Wang, who was removed from his post in February, fled to the US consulate in Chengdu days after his removal where he reportedly revealed key evidence in Heywood's murder.
The other charges mainly refer to Bo taking roughly 20 million yuan (HK$25.3 million) in bribes, including a villa in Cannes, France, worth about 15 million yuan bought by Xu Ming, a businessman who is now in custody over his ties to Bo.
Bo is also accused of embezzling about five million yuan when governing Dalian, Liaoning province, in the 1990s.
Given the amounts involved, Bo might receive a relatively lenient sentence, legal expert Guo Daohui said. "Bo won't end up too badly," said Guo, comparing the sum to the amount of money involved in the case of former railways minister Liu Zhijun.
Liu was given a suspended death sentence for abusing his office and accepting bribes and gifts worth 64.6 million yuan.