Sat, Oct 26, 2013 - Page 1 News List

Bo saga draws to close as court upholds life sentence


Chinese pedestrians try to get a glance of the activities taking place at the Shandong high court building in Jinan, east China Shandong province yesterday. A Chinese court rejected fallen politician Bo Xilai’s appeal against his corruption conviction and confirmed his life sentence, as authorities looked to draw a line under a damaging scandal.

Photo: AFP

A Chinese court rejected an appeal by fallen politician Bo Xilai (薄熙來) against his corruption conviction and confirmed his life sentence yesterday, as authorities looked to draw a line under a damaging scandal.

Until last year Bo headed the southwestern city of Chongqing and was one of the highest-ranked politicians in the Chinese Communist Party, but was engulfed by a controversy that saw his wife convicted of murdering a British businessman.

He was condemned to life imprisonment on charges of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power last month, and analysts said yesterday’s decision meant there was no comeback for a man once tipped for the top echelons of power.

“The facts of the first instance verdict are clear, the evidence is reliable, sufficient, and the sentence is appropriate,” the Shandong Province High Court said in its ruling. “The court rules as follows: reject the appeal, uphold the original verdict. This verdict is the final ruling.”

Bo had presented 11 grounds for appeal, it said, including that his confessions in custody were “produced under pressure from officials handling the case, and as illegal evidence should be disregarded.”

State broadcaster CCTV showed a smiling Bo handcuffed in court flanked by two policemen.

At the end of the hearing they frogmarched him away, each gripping an arm and a shoulder.

Security was heavy around the courthouse in Jinan, the capital of Shandong Province, with hundreds of police officers stationed around the building.

The courts have no further obligation to reconsider his case after the appeal, lawyers said, and Bo is unlikely to appear in public again.

The appeal was considered in a “closed hearing” earlier this month without Bo present, a lawyer with direct knowledge of the case said, adding that yesterday’s announcement “will be the final verdict. After that, the process is over.”

According to Chinese law, Bo will not be able to lodge any further formal appeals, and while he can submit a “petition” to China’s supreme court, it is not required to take further action.

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