Bo Guagua, the younger son of former Politburo member Bo Xilai, has made a rare public comment ahead of his father's corruption trial tomorrow, saying he had been unable to communicate with his parents for a year and a half and drawing attention to their "clandestine detention".
In a statement released to The New York Times on Monday, the younger Bo, who lives in the US, bemoaned his mother's conviction on a murder charge and said he hoped his father would have "the opportunity to answer his critics and defend himself".
Bo Xilai has been at the centre of arguably the biggest scandal to shake the Communist Party in decades. His wife, Gu Kailai , was convicted last year in the poisoning death of a British businessman.
In July, Bo Xilai, former party chief of the southwestern municipality of Chongqing , was charged with bribe-taking, corruption and abuse of power. The party announced on Sunday that his trial would start tomorrow in Jinan , the capital of Shandong province.
Political analysts said the outcome had almost certainly been decided already by party leaders, and Bo Xilai, 64, is expected to get a long prison sentence.
Video: China high-flyer Bo brought low as trial finally nears
Bo Guagua, a graduate of Harrow, Oxford University and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, has just enrolled in Columbia Law School. The third generation of an aristocratic Communist family, he had led a privileged life until the downfall of his parents.
"It has been 18 months since I have been denied contact with either my father or my mother," said Bo, 25. "I can only surmise the conditions of their clandestine detention and the adversity they each endure in solitude. I hope that in my father's upcoming trial, he is granted the opportunity to answer his critics and defend himself without constraints of any kind.
"However, if my well-being has been bartered for my father's acquiescence or my mother's further co-operation, then the verdict will clearly carry no moral weight," he added.
Gu was convicted in August last year of poisoning Neil Heywood, a British family associate who died in a hotel room in Chongqing the previous year. She received a suspended death sentence, which often equates to a life term.
In his statement, Bo Guagua discussed the fate of his mother publicly for the first time since the scandal broke early last year.
"My mother, who is now silenced and defenceless, cannot respond to the opportunistic detractors that attack her reputation with impunity," Bo said. "She has already overcome unimaginable tribulation after the sudden collapse of her physical health in 2006 and subsequent seclusion.
"Although it is of little comfort to my anxiety about her state of health, I know that she will continue to absorb all that she is accused of with dignity and quiet magnanimity."
Bo was referring to an illness that appeared to have struck Gu in Beijing when her husband was commerce minister. Family associates have said that the illness was debilitating, and that Gu became paranoid and was rarely seen in public afterwards.
After releasing the statement, Bo Guagua declined to answer any further questions, although he did confirm his enrolment at Columbia.
In September, when the party announced some of its findings against the father, Bo said in a brief statement that his father was "upright in his beliefs and devoted to duty".