Fri, Sep 20, 2013 - Page 4 News List

Defiant Bo Xilai vows to clear his name

FATE AWAITS:The fallen Chinese politician is to hear the verdict in his trial within days and indicated in a letter to his family that he expects to receive a lengthy term in prison

AFP, BEIJING

Fallen Chinese politician Bo Xilai (薄熙來) has written a defiant letter from prison vowing to clear his name just days ahead of a court verdict following a high-profile corruption trial, Hong Kong media reported yesterday.

Formerly a top-ranked member of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Bo — almost certain to be found guilty on Sunday — said in the letter to family members that his name will “one day” be cleared, the South China Morning Post reported in Hong Kong.

Bo, once tipped for membership of China’s most powerful political body before his dramatic fall from grace last year, indicated that he expects to receive a jail term, writing that he will “wait quietly in the prison.”

“My father was jailed many times. I will follow [in] his footsteps,” the Post cited Bo as writing.

Bo’s father, Bo Yibo (薄一波), was a celebrated revolutionary leader who was jailed several times during China’s tumultuous Cultural Revolution, which was launched in the 1960s.

“Father and mother have passed away, but their teachings continue to serve me well. I would not disgrace their glorious past,” Bo said in the letter, according to the Post.

Bo also thanked his family for their support during his dramatic five-day trial last month, where he mounted a fierce defense against charges of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power.

Agence France-Presse was not able to verify the contents of the letter, which the newspaper said was written last week.

The downfall of Bo, 64, who was the top official in the southwestern megacity of Chongqing and one of China’s most prominent politicians, exposed the ruling party to allegations of graft at a senior level.

The scandal added to divisions ahead of a once-in-a-decade leadership transition that saw Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) installed as CCP head in November.

Bo fell from grace after his police chief fled to a US consulate. His wife was later convicted of the murder of a British businessman.

In his trial, Bo vehemently denied the charges against him, while the prosecution accused him of corruptly obtaining 26.8 million yuan (US$4.4 million) and covering up the killing committed by his wife.

Revelations of private jet flights, luxury villas and gifts of rare animal meats held Chinese Internet users spellbound, with the court’s weibo account gaining more than half a million followers.

Bo’s defiance over the course of the hearings astonished a public unfamiliar with the open airing of top-level intrigue and was in stark contrast to previous Chinese political trials, in which most defendants have humbly confessed their crimes in opaque court proceedings.

He dismissed testimony by his wife, Gu Kailai (谷開來), as “insane,” launched a scathing attack on his former police chief Wang Lijun (王立軍) as “full of lies and fraud,” and compared another prosecution witness to a “mad dog.”

At the close of the trial prosecutors said Bo’s crimes of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power were “extremely serious” and there were no mitigating factors.

Though a guilty verdict is almost certain, his punishment remains in question. The charges against him mean he could be handed a death sentence, but several analysts said they expect him to receive a prison term of around 20 years.

Prior to his ouster, Bo was one of 25 members of the CCP’s politburo, China’s second-highest political body. The last former politburo member to be tried for corruption, Chen Liangyu (陳良宇), received an 18-year prison term in 2008.

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