Fallen politician Bo Xilai put on a final act of defiance yesterday after a high court in Shandong rejected his appeal against his life sentence, declaring "I am not guilty" at the final hearing of China's most explosive political case in decades.
Bo, handcuffed and wearing a blue jacket for his last public appearance before going to jail, constantly interrupted the judge's reading of the ruling during the 40-minute session, according to two court witnesses.
"This is a false ... wrongful case, and the officials handling it just wanted to claim credit and become 'tiger-taming' heroes," Bo shouted after the Provincial Higher People's Court upheld his conviction and sentence for corruption and abuse of power.
Sources said an agitated Bo peppered the presiding judge's announcement with sharp and at times acerbic counter-points. The two towering court security guards standing next to him tried to push down his shoulders every time Bo uttered a protest.
"I only respect facts," Bo loudly retorted when the judge warned him to "respect the law".
The high court said Bo and his defence team had submitted 11 reasons to support the appeal, filed immediately after the former Politburo member was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Jinan Intermediate People's Court on September 22.
One point made by defence lawyers was that Bo's corruption case had been triggered by the failed attempt by his former aide, Wang Lijun , to defect to the US consulate in Chengdu , for which Wang received a 15-year sentence - a much lighter punishment than Bo's.
"This was calling black white and white black. It was an insult to the judiciary and a regression in China's rule of law," Bo is said to have told yesterday's hearing.
Bo reiterated yesterday that he received orders from the party's top law and order committee on how to deal with Wang's defection. "That was a six-item order from the central leadership," Bo said.
Bo also insisted that Wang defected because his former right-hand man "felt guilty" about his "secret love" for Bo's wife, Gu Kailai .
However, the high court said that after "careful deliberation" of the appeal case, it decided that the lower court's verdict was based on "clear facts, ample evidence and lawful procedure" and the sentence was "accurate and appropriate", according to the full text of the ruling posted on the court's website.
Bo, who robustly denied all three charges against him during his five-day trial in August, stuck to his defence line throughout yesterday's final hearing session.
"That was confession under deceit," Bo responded sharply when the judge rejected his claim that he confessed to party disciplinary officials under duress.
"That was entirely a fabrication," Bo said to the high court's support of the embezzlement charge.
Bo, 64, is expected to serve his term at Qincheng Prison in the north of Beijing, which houses offenders from the political elite.