Bo Xilai

Shandong court agrees to hear Bo Xilai appeal

Review of ex-Politburo member's life sentence has small chance of success, legal experts say

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 October, 2013, 10:08am

A Shandong court said yesterday it would hear an appeal by fallen former Politburo member Bo Xilai , who was convicted of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power last month and jailed for life.

Bo had "refused to accept the decision" at his trial and submitted an appeal to the Shandong Higher People's Court, it said in a statement on its website. "This court, upon investigation, decided in accordance with the law to accept," it said.

Previous reports said Bo had appealed "on the day the sentence was announced".

"He told the court of first instance that he would appeal and that is equivalent to the court receiving [the application]. He also paid the appeal fee. It is not clear when the appeals court will start the review. It should be rather soon, perhaps this Friday or next week," a source said.

Bo, the central figure in the country's biggest political scandal in decades, was sentenced to life in prison in September by the Intermediate People's Court in Jinan , the provincial capital of Shandong .

His sensational five-day trial earlier offered a rare peek into the family life and dealings of a top politician, exposing bribes, murder and illicit love at the highest levels of power.

The alleged ill-gotten goods included a French villa purchased by a mainland businessman for Bo's wife, Gu Kailai , through shell companies managed in part by Briton Neil Heywood - whom Gu was convicted last year of murdering.

Experts have said an appeal was unlikely to succeed with the Communist Party retaining strict control over the judiciary.

Many previous corruption trials of top officials have ended after just one round.

The former mayor of Shanghai, Chen Liangyu , decided in 2008 not to appeal after being sentenced to 18 years in prison. Beijing ex-mayor Chen Xitong appealed against a 16-year sentence for corruption in 1998, but it was rejected.

At the proceedings in August, Bo said Gu was "insane". He also accused his former police chief, Wang Lijun , of secretly loving her while giving testimony that was "full of lies".

Neither Gu nor Wang, both of whom admitted the charges against them, appealed their convictions in the scandal.

Bo's decision to appeal drags the process out for a further stage, although the Shandong High Court may opt to review the case internally without holding further hearings.