Bo Xilai

Bo Xilai prepares for his 'last stand' against life verdict

Disgraced politician readies speech for hearing on outcome of his fight to overturn life jail term in what is expected to be last public appearance

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 October, 2013, 5:59pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 October, 2013, 12:26pm

Disgraced politician Bo Xilai will make a court appearance on Friday to hear the outcome of his appeal against his conviction on three charges and sentence to life imprisonment last month, according to sources.

"Bo is preparing to make a statement in court, but the authorities may not allow him to do that," said one of the two sources, who did not want to be named. "He is in good health and mental condition at Qincheng prison."

The Shandong Provincial Higher People's Court said on its website yesterday that it would "announce a decision regarding the bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power case of the appellant Bo Xilai" on Friday morning. The court said the hearing would be "open", but gave no details.

The two sources, who have direct knowledge of the case, said Bo (pictured) would make what could be his last public appearance at the hearing, a rare act under the mainland's court system, which commonly handles appeals in secret.

The higher court is expected to uphold the decision made by the Jinan Intermediate People's Court last month.

In theory, Bo still has the right to seek redress after Friday's ruling by complaining to the Supreme People's Court, but his chances of success are extremely slim, said prominent rights lawyer Mo Shaoping .

More than 100 people attended the hearing at the Jinan court on September 22, including Bo's family members and reporters from state media. As the court announced the verdict, Bo erupted in anger and yelled "Unfair!" and "Unjust!" in an explosive ending to the country's most politically charged trial in decades.

Right after the ruling the former Politburo member filed an appeal, which the high court accepted earlier this month.

Beijing-based political analyst Chen Ziming said a final open hearing in the case would serve to show how much progress the country had made in improving its judicial system and to project an image of legal transparency and fairness.

He Weifang , a law professor at Peking University, said it was nearly impossible for Bo's appeal to succeed because the final verdict had been predetermined by the top leadership.

"The higher court is very much likely to affirm the original sentence of life in prison," said He. "For such a politically sensitive case, neither the higher court nor the lower-level court has the right to make the final call."

Bo, 64, put up a robust defence and denied all three charges against him at his trial in August. The charismatic politician had widely been seen as a top candidate for a seat on the Politburo Standing Committee until his fall from grace, triggered by a flight to the US consulate in Chengdu by his then right-hand man Wang Lijun .

Watch: Bo Xilai sentenced to life imprisonment