The top legislative body in Chongqing has likely approved the resignation of disgraced former municipal party secretary Bo Xilai and his right-hand man Wang Lijun as delegates to the National People's Congress. Experts believe the move paves the way for their prosecution.
The standing committee of Chongqing's municipal people's congress on Tuesday accepted the resignation of at least one delegate in a meeting presided over by Chen Cungeng, the director of the legislature, according to cqnews.net, a news website run by the Chongqing Daily News group. The report gave no details of the identity of the person or persons.
A Chongqing-based source said yesterday that both Bo and Wang, the municipality's former police chief, had earlier tendered their resignations as NPC delegates. 'As far as I have learned, both men resigned a while ago. Maybe the standing committee ... has only dealt with it recently,' this source said.
Another source, who is close to the municipal people's congress, said that once the Chongqing legislature accepted the resignations of Bo and Wang, if they had indeed been tendered, and once the NPC Standing Committee ratified them, the two would no longer have membership of the country's top legislature. Prosecutors could then begin court proceedings, if they were able to make a case.
State media reported the NPC Standing Committee yesterday reviewed the credentials of certain deputies, without further elaborating.
The clues, albeit vague, are being followed closely by political pundits to gauge the progress of the investigation into Bo.
Professor Ong Yew-kim, an expert on mainland law at Chinese University in Hong Kong, said the judicial authorities may soon announce a formal investigation of Wang.
There is widespread speculation Wang will be charged with treason after attempting to seek political asylum at the US consulate in Chengdu , Sichuan , in February. There has been no official report as to what crime he may have committed.
Ong said it was too early to say if Bo would be prosecuted, as he had only been officially accused of a violation of party discipline.
Sources close to the municipal government had earlier said Bo's disciplinary violation stemmed largely from his sacking of Wang as police chief without first getting approval from Beijing. He may have avoided involving Beijing as he suspected Wang had information connecting Bo's wife to the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood in Chongqing in November.
Xinhua reported on April 10 the findings of a reopened investigation into the Briton's death. 'The existing evidence indicated Heywood died of homicide, of which Bogu Kailai and Zhang Xiaojun, a member of staff for Bo's family, are highly suspected,' the report said.
Xinhua's reference to Bo's wife as Bogu Kailai, rather than the more common Gu Kailai , is unusual. Some have interpreted it as an attempt to highlight the close ties between the couple; others suggest it may mean she has an ID card for Hong Kong or Singapore, where wives are often referred to by their husband's surname.
Chongqing legislative employees declined to comment yesterday.