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.
Legal experts say Bo Xilai's wife and son should stand trial for economic crimes too
The wife and younger son of Bo Xilai should stand trial for economic crimes if Bo is found guilty of bribery, legal experts say, though whether they eventually will is a political unknown.
New evidence given by witnesses including Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, implicated her and their son, Bo Guagua , in Bo's alleged bribery, so they should be tried, the experts said.
For Gu, such a trial would come on top of the suspended death sentence she received in August last year for the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood in November 2011 in a hotel in Chongqing , the municipality once governed by Bo.
"Since what's been presented to the court in the past three days sheds new light on the complicity of Gu Kailai and Bo Guagua in Bo's acceptance of bribes, the judiciary should bring them to trial in a separate action," said Beijing-based lawyer Mo Shaoping .
In particular, what Gu said in her 11-minute videoed evidence about what Bo knew of a 16 million yuan (HK$20 million) villa in Cannes, France, given to her by tycoon Xu Ming showed she "had direct knowledge" of the bribery, Mo said.
"When Gu stood trial last year it was only for the charge of murder, but now since the judiciary has discovered that she may be linked to other cases involving bribery, it should be pursued."
The judiciary should not consider factors such as whether a new charge would result in a heavier or lighter punishment than the one she already received, he said. "That's a completely different matter. It would be ludicrous if she doesn't face other charges because her current sentence is tough enough."
Defence lawyer Si Weijiang agreed, saying that from a purely legal standpoint, Gu Kailai should stand trial afresh for bribery. "But how this will turn out eventually is uncertain because much can be dealt with outside the courtroom," he said.
Chen Zonglin, a law professor at Chongqing University, said the judiciary could put Gu on trial on new charges. "When the ongoing trial finishes, if Gu is found to be have been involved, she will face another trial," he said. The same applied to Bo Guagua, though Mo and Si said whether he would face trial depended on how old he was at the time of the alleged crimes.
It's far from certain that the judiciary will press charges against Gu and Bo Guagua, as it is widely believed the authorities want the case closed before the third plenary meeting of the Communist Party's Central Committee this autumn.
Mo, who has represented prominent dissidents including Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo , said: "I'm not sure about politics, but if the judiciary doesn't pursue it, it is a departure from what should be done. And it's a political case."
Bo has been charged with receiving 21.8 million yuan in bribes from Xu, a billionaire and close friend of Bo who is now in custody, and Tang Xiaolin , general manager of Dalian International Development, the court said.
Bo said he was "completely unaware" of Gu's villa in Cannes, but Gu said her husband should have been aware of it and other bribes including money, air tickets and overseas trips provided by Xu to her and Bo Guagua because she told him about them.
The prosecutors claim Bo received bribes either directly or through Gu and his son.