Bo Xilai. (Photo/CNA)
The upcoming trial of disgraced former Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai will likely take place in secret due to Bo's refusal to cooperate with authorities, reports Boxun, an overseas Chinese community website providing alternative source of news from China.
Once seen as destined for a seat at the top table of power, Bo's spectacular fall from grace began last February when his former police chief Wang Lijun fled to the US consulate in Chengdu and handed over incriminating evidence against Bo and his wife Gu Kailai. Wang has since been given a 15-year sentence for various crimes including the attempted defection, while Gu was handed a suspended death sentence for the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood following a botched business deal.
On Jan. 10, the official Xinhua news agency reported that the party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection had transferred Bo over to judicial authorities, although the announcement did not specify the date or location of the trial, nor what crimes he will be charged with. The discipline commission had previously claimed that Bo bore major responsibility for Heywood's murder, that he had taken massive bribes and maintained improper sexual relations with a number of women. At Gu's murder trial in August last year, which was concluded in a day, her husband's name was not mentioned since the country's leadership was still debating what was to be done about the charismatic politician, the son of revered PRC founder Bo Yibo.
On Jan. 27, foreign media outlets reported that Bo's trial would take place the following day in Guiyang, the capital of southwestern Guizhou province, and that the trial would last for three days, though this rumor was quickly proven false.
Boxun's source, said to be from the government, claims that Bo's upcoming trial has been very difficult to organize as he has not once cooperated with the discipline commission and has only agreed to speak to people who are "up to his level." The source also confirmed rumors that an enraged Bo suffered a minor stroke at one stage and had to be rushed to Beijing's 301 Military Hospital.
When the discipline commission was transferring Bo's file to the judiciary, Bo allegedly refused to sign his arrest notice and denied any culpability. The source said that a senior judicial officer then told Bo that if he fully cooperated he would be given a lenient sentence of 15 years or less, but if he did not then he would be treated "unfavorably." Bo was said to have responded that if he were to be charged with corruption, accepting bribes and covering up a crime, then he would not only deny all charges but would also announce the names of other senior officials who have committed worse crimes. He is then alleged to have said that he would only accept the charges if they were political in nature, such as being a counter-revolutionary, even though this law was abolished in China in 1997.
According to the latest information available to Boxun, the party's biggest concern right now is not whether Bo's trial should be held before or after the National People's Congress next month — it is how to convince Bo to "cooperate."
A high-level Beijing source said that party leaders are particularly afraid of the political fallout should Bo divulge incriminating information about other top officials during his trial. Even if the trial were held behind closed doors, there is no guarantee that those in attendance would not leak the information to the media. Given Bo's personality, there is also the risk that he might pretend to agree to cooperate and yet break that promise once he takes the stand, the source added.
Boxun therefore speculates that it is highly likely Bo's trial will be held in private and under secretive conditions, with "national security reasons" to be cited as the justification if anyone should question the decision.
Bo Xilai 薄熙來
Wang Lijun 王立軍
Gu Kailai 谷開來