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 to appeal life sentence for corruption: sources
Mainland media uses high-profile trial of former Politburo member to trumpet the rule of law and the leadership's drive against corruption
Keith Zhai and Zhuang Pinghui
Bo Xilai decided to appeal hours after a court sentenced him to life in jail for corruption, two separate sources with direct knowledge of the case said.
The fallen princeling erupted in anger when the Jinan Intermediate People's Court in Shandong found him guilty of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power on Sunday. He yelled that the court decision was not fair and was not based on facts, another witness told the South China Morning Post on Sunday.
The two sources said the 64-year-old informed the court on Sunday afternoon of his request for an appeal when receiving the official verdict.
"He was forcibly taken away by the court's guards and didn't get a chance to make an appeal inside the courthouse," said one. "So he made the appeal right after the hearing."
The other source said that Bo was anxious to make the appeal, which is likely to be heard by the Higher People's Court of Shandong behind closed doors.
Bo mounted a robust defence during his five-day trial in August and contested all three charges. The court on Sunday rejected nearly all of the defence arguments, but granted that a small portion of the bribes alleged by the prosecution - 1.34 million yuan of air travel offered by Dalian businessman Xu Ming to Bo's wife, Gu Kailai , and son Bo Guagua - had not been proven for lack of evidence.
Bo's chances are slim.
Former Beijing party chief Chen Xitong , a Politburo member like Bo, was jailed for 16 years in 1998 for taking 555,000 yuan in bribes and other crimes. His appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court. He was released in 2004 on medical parole.
Mainland media yesterday used reports of Bo's trial to trumpet both the rule of law and the leadership's drive against corruption. Both state-owned media and the more liberal press defended the sentence.
From the case's investigation to the open and transparent trial and verdict, everything was guided by the rule of law, said a widely published commentary in People's Daily, the party's mouthpiece. "Sentencing Bo Xilai in accordance with law fully reflects that nobody can be exempted from party discipline and national law, and whoever breaches those must be thoroughly investigated and severely punished in accordance with law," the commentary said.
It was read out on prime-time news on China Central Television and carried by other popular newspapers such as the Guangzhou Daily, the Southern Metropolis News and in the official Chongqing Daily. Bo was Chongqing party secretary.
The China Daily praised the trial as "exemplary" and said it showed "the political will of the central authorities to tackle corruption with an iron fist".
"The manner in which the trial was conducted has left a far more significant legacy," it said in an editorial.
The editorial noted that the use of weibo feeds to broadcast court proceedings was unprecedented on the mainland.
"Subjecting court proceedings to public scrutiny is a big step forward in the construction of rule of law," it declared.
The Global Times said Bo's sentence of life in jail - as opposed to the fixed term of imprisonment many had assumed he would get - and the fact the trial proceedings were made public, contrary to the expectations of some, showed the trial "was not plotted, but strictly followed the law".
The Beijing Times said the trial not only marked a significant milestone in the country's judicial history, but provided an important lesson in enhancing awareness of the rule of law.
Video: Bo Xilai listens as sentencing is announced by judge