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.
Bo wife's refusal to appear in court damaged credibility, say experts
Evidence Bo Xilai's wife gave against him would have been more credible if she had delivered it in person, lawyers say.
Instead Gu Kailai's testimony was relayed through an 11-minute video and written statements.
Taken together, they portray Gu and the couple's son, Bo Guagua , as closely involved in the alleged corruption. She told the court property tycoon Xu Ming bought a luxury villa in France on the family's behalf, and he paid for luxurious trips for Bo Guagua.
But legal experts said Gu should be summoned in person to make her evidence more convincing. On Friday, Bo Xilai said he had twice requested that Gu testify in person, but the court said she had refused.
Under mainland law, a spouse cannot be compelled to testify against his or her partner, but she has apparently decided to waive this right. "If she gave up that right, then she should attend the court trial and be cross-examined," said a legal expert familiar with the case.
The expert said the court should have ordered Gu to be mentally assessed before testifying. At her own trial in August last year, Gu admitted to murdering British businessman Neil Heywood, but blamed her actions on a mental breakdown. She received a suspended death sentence.
"Now it is not possible to conduct such an assessment given that the evidence has already been presented," the expert said. "Even if Gu's current mental state is found to be fine, that does not mean that she was fit when she gave her evidence in the video."
She had undermined her credibility, the expert said.
Gu should also face bribery charges given her admission, the expert said. "It does not make sense legally for the judge not to summon Gu to give evidence in person, and the whole procedure is unconvincing," the expert said.
He Weifang , a legal scholar at Peking University, said Gu and Bo Guagua should be prosecuted for bribery and summoned before the court.
"The whole Bo family is very key to the case," He said. "The arrangement gives rise to suspicions that there are more serious scandalous details underneath."
Mo Shaoping , a Beijing lawyer, said the court should not have allowed the video clip and Gu's written testimonies as evidence, as no one could prove whether it had been altered.