Detained former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai may face trial in September and possibly receive lenient punishment, says a former Beijing-based lawyer who made his name defending an alleged triad boss in the southwestern municipality during Bo's heyday.
"He will probably get a light sentence," Li Zhuang said in Hong Kong yesterday when asked to comment on Bo's case.
Li spent 18 months in prison and had his law licence revoked for fabricating evidence while he defended Gong Gangmo, a billionaire gangster in Chongqing, in late 2009.
Facing the death penalty, Gong informed on his lawyer and instead received a life sentence for a string of convictions including attempted murder, racketeering, possession of firearms and drug-running. Gong had all his assets confiscated, including many legitimate businesses.
"Unlike Liu Zhijun, the disgraced former railways minister who simply took 60 million yuan (HK$75 million) or so in bribes, Bo - aside from his corruption - actually sabotaged the country's rule of law in his four years of fascist-style rule over Chongqing," Li said, adding that he had no idea whether such political wrongdoings would be included in Bo's indictment.
Li is in town to give a public speech at the Hong Kong Book Fair tomorrow.
As a prominent criminal defence lawyer, Li was considered well-informed and close to numerous "princelings" - the offspring of party veteran revolutionaries - including Fu Yang , his former boss who was the son of former top legislator Peng Zhen , whose original name was Fu Maogong .
Meanwhile, a Chongqing-based source close to the municipal government said yesterday that Bo could be prosecuted for taking bribes of up to eight million yuan, and be jailed for between 10 and 20 years.