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 Xilai case: Critics and fans united in scepticism
The life sentence for Bo Xilai marks the end of a compelling drama - but both his admirers and his critics felt the case failed to tell the whole story.
Huang Chengcheng, a Chongqing native who criticised Bo's brutal campaign against crime gangs, said Bo deserved his sentence.
But Huang saw it as a political decision, rather than the result of a fair trial, and said prosecutors limited the charges they brought to manage the political risk.
"There was no mention of so many people who have been wrongly persecuted and even executed in Bo's crackdown," he said. "His trial also distracted the public with lurid details of the extramarital affair involving Bo's wife and [ex-police chief] Wang Lijun."
But Zhao Fusheng, one of many Maoists who backed Bo as the politician revived revolutionary culture in Chongqing, was shocked by the sentence. He expected a five-year jail term and said Bo's real crime was over-ambition.
"At worst, he failed in the oversight of his subordinates and his family," said Zhao. "If Bo's a criminal now, more than 90 per cent of party officials are no better than him."
Cheng Yi, an IT engineer in Beijing, said the public had not been given a full picture. "How can we have faith in a verdict when much of it was based on testimonies from people who have little freedom to say what they mean to say?" he asked.
Zhuge Xueyin, of Anhui, said Bo's downfall exposed the lack of checks and balances in the party system.
"How come Bo was allowed to go so far over the years even though the party claims to have so many oversight bodies?" Zhuge asked. "Who else should be held to account for what he has done wrong?"