The trial of former Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun will open next week in Chengdu, Sichuan, two sources say.
A Chengdu-based source said Wang (pictured) will be charged with treason, which carries the death penalty. But the source said a lenient sentence would be handed down because Wang earned 'merits' during the investigation. Another source, close to the Chongqing government, confirmed that Wang's trial would open in Chengdu in a few days.
Wang, the former right-hand man of disgraced Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai , fled to the US consulate in Chengdu in February, triggering the biggest political crisis in China in decades. Wang reportedly held incriminating information about Bo and feared for his personal safety after his relationship with Bo turned sour.
In a related move, which is being seen as an attempt by the authorities to wrap up the whole Bo saga before a once-in-a-decade leadership transition this autumn, four former Chongqing senior police officials will go on trial today for attempting to 'cover up' a murder carried out by Bo's wife, Gu Kailai .
The four policemen will face trial in the Hefei Intermediate People's Court in Anhui for trying to protect Gu 'from being pursued for criminal responsibilities' after the death of British businessman Neil Heywood, Xinhua reported yesterday. The four policemen are former deputy Chongqing police chief Guo Weiguo ; former Chongqing criminal investigation squad head Li Yang ; the former police chief of Chongqing's Yubei district, Wang Pengfei ; and the former deputy police chief of Chongqing's Shapingba district, Wang Zhi .
'The trials and everything related to Bo is going on according to the script written by the authorities,' said political analyst Johnny Lau Yui-siu. 'The authorities want to first handle Gu and then other related cases, well before the start of the party congress, avoiding any impact on the leadership transition.'
The officers were charged on July 30 with 'abusing law and practising favouritism', Xinhua reported.
Earlier reports suggested that Li was involved in the initial investigation of the death of Heywood, and Wang Pengfei was believed to have helped arrange the car in which Wang Lijun fled to the US consulate.
It is not known why Wang Pengfei was charged with protecting Gu instead of helping Wang Lijun, but analysts suggested political expediency.
'The authorities are making every effort to avoid implicating Bo in the death of Heywood,' Lau said. 'The local and international community would be shocked if a Politburo member was involved in a murder case. For that purpose, the authorities may change the charges against related people.'
Additional reporting by Teddy Ng