Wed, Sep 19, 2012 - Page 6 News List

Ex-police chief admits to defection in court case

Reuters, CHENGDU, China

A former police chief who revealed China’s biggest political scandal in two decades admitted defection and did not contest charges of taking bribes and illegal surveillance at his two-day trial ending yesterday, a court official said.

Wang Lijun (王立軍), ex-police chief of Chongqing municipality, sought to conceal the murder of a British businessman by the wife of one of the nation’s most senior and ambitious politicians, Bo Xilai (薄熙來), an account of the trial said.

Foreign reporters were barred from attending the trial amid tight security around the courthouse.

A spokesman for the Chengdu Intermediate Court read out a statement to reporters at in a nearby hotel, but no mention was made of Bo.

“The accused Wang Lijun voluntarily gave himself up after committing the crime of defection, and then gave a truthful account of the main crimes involved in his defection,” court spokesman Yang Yuguan said.

However, the official statement said Wang, who was shown on state television looking relaxed during the hearing, exposed leads to major crimes committed by unnamed others.

The charges against Wang carry sentences ranging from a lengthy jail term to life in prison and the death penalty. Sentencing is expected within 10 days.

“The accused Wang Lijun voluntarily gave himself up after committing the crime of defection, and then gave a truthful account of the main crimes involved in his defection,” the official statement published by state media said. “The accused Wang Lijun exposed leads concerning major criminal offences by others, and played an important role in investigating and dealing with the cases concerned.”

Wang’s trial was closely watched for any evidence that Bo had ordered Wang to cover up his wife’s involvement in the murder — a sign that Bo himself could be next to face trial. So far, Bo has only been accused of breaching internal party discipline.

The Bo scandal has rocked Beijing, exposing rifts within the party — elements of which are strong supporters of Bo’s populist, left-leaning policies — at a time when China is preparing for a once-in-a-decade leadership change.

Wang, 52, lifted the lid on the murder and cover-up of a British businessman in February when he went to a US consulate and, according to sources, told envoys there about the murder that would later bring down Bo.

Within two months of Wang’s 24-hour visit to the consulate, Bo was sacked as party boss and from the Chinese Communist Party’s politburo and Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai (谷開來), was accused of poisoning the businessman. Gu has since been given a suspended death sentence for the killing late last year.

Wang’s trial started on Monday in the city of Chengdu, the city where Wang staged his dramatic flight to the US consulate, with an unannounced closed-door session to hear charges of defection and abuse of power, Xinhua news agency said.

An “open trial” to hear charges of bribe taking and “bending the law for selfish ends” was held yesterday, Xinhua said. However, the trial remained behind closed doors in the imposing, gray stone Chengdu City Intermediate People’s Court.

The prosecutors said Wang “clearly knew that Bogu Kailai was a major suspect in a case of intentional homicide, and deliberately concealed that so she would not be prosecuted.” Bogu is the official, but rarely used surname of Bo Xilai’s wife.

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