Trial of Bo Xilai: Evidence, charges and defense
Updated: 2013-08-28 23:50
The court's investigation showed that on July 9, 2001, Bogu Kailai, bought a villa in Nice of France worth over 2.3 million euros (16.25 million yuan; $3.1 million) with funds provided by Xu Ming.
Evidence presented by prosecutors showed a three-storey villa with a garden, swimming pool and garage, covering 3,950 square meters, the size of half a football field.
The court plays video recordings of Bogu Kailai to the media on Friday.Photos by Wang Jing / China Daily
Evidence also showed that Bogu Kailai and her friend, French architect Patrick Devillers, carefully orchestrated a legally intricate purchasing plan where the villa was bought under the name of several companies rather than Bo's family.
The plan, called by Devillers a "montage", covered Bogu Kailai and her family's ownership of overseas real estate, and lowered transaction taxes and fees, through registering multiple companies overseas and taking advantage of their complicated shareholder mix.
Bo's wife explained in her testimony that she wanted to conceal the purchase of her overseas property, for fear of getting her family involved, or affecting Bo's political career.
The procuratorate, after combing through numerous pieces of written and verbal evidence, distilled a "roadmap" behind the "montage": Xu Ming's offer of funds, purchase of the villa under the name of companies, Bogu Kailai's real control over the villa, and Bo's knowing of the matter.
Xu Ming's testimony corroborated Bogu Kailai's testimony.
According to Xu, when Bogu Kailai told him she wanted to buy the villa, he immediately pledged funds.
Xu said, he made the offer to curry favor with Bogu Kailai and Bo so that Bo would return an even bigger favor in the future. Financial documents verified that Xu Ming was the provider of the funds.
Evidence showed that Bogu Kailai and her friends registered three companies overseas and involved at least four other foreign companies and one foreign bank in the purchase plan.
The first company they registered was owned 50/50 between Bogu Kailai and Devillers, to abide by local laws which required a company to start with at least two shareholders. However, Devillers' share was simply held by him in Bogu Kailai's place.
Devillers said in his written testimony that he did not invest anything in the company, and Bogu Kailai was the real shareholder.
Bogu Kailai repeatedly admitted, "the villa has all along been my asset, and I am the villa's owner."
Bo said he believed the massive evidence only proved his wife's acquisition of the villa, and denied having anything to do with the villa,claiming absolute ignorance of the property purchase in Nice.
Witness testimony showed that Bo was well aware of the purchase by Xu Ming for his family.
During the trial, prosecutors played video-audio materials recorded of Bogu Kailai, while she was questioned on Aug 10. A digital slideshow of the Villa Fontaine Saint Georges, made by Bogu herself and acquired from her home computer after prosecutors searched her house was also played in court.
Bogu Kailai said, "I took a lot of pictures of the villa after it was purchased. I designed two slideshows of the villa. The slideshow was accompanied by English poems and music, with pictures switched in every three seconds.
"I brought the slideshow back to my Shenyang home, and played it to Xu Ming when he was at my house. At the time, Guagua's dad (Bo) was home from work and we watched the slideshow together. Xu praised me by saying that I had a talent for this, and Guagua's dad joked by saying that I quite understood arts and I was an artist. I took the initiative to tell him that I let Xu purchase a house in France, as a safe investment, which will be given to Guagua, and by leasing the villa a stable income can be gained. When I said these words, Xu was there."
Xu Ming confirmed that he, Bo and Bogu Kailai had sat together in Bo's home watching the slideshow, and that Bogu clearly explained to Bo that she had asked Xu to buy the villa so that Bo Guagua would have a stable income.
Xu recalled, "Later, we chatted for a while before I left, but I cannot remember clearly what we said at the time. The whole story just happened like this."
Bogu Kailai said, "Bo Xilai asked me whether it was safe to do this. I assured Guagua's dad by telling him that the purchase was very complicated. [The villa] had not been purchased under our name. It was quite safe."
Prosecutors presented testimony from Xu Ming, which confirmed that Bo was aware of the purchase of the villa.
Xu's testimony states, "In July 2004, Bogu Kailai said the property purchase procedures had been completed and Bo Xilai would call me soon about the matter. Later, Bo himself called me and asked me to go to the Ministry of Commerce to find him. During our face-to-face talk, Bo said [the property] must be kept secret strictly, and he said ‘he did not know anything about the property at any time.' I said I understood."
Bo said in court, "The evidence related to the property is like a huge ball, and only a thread on the ball can prove I had something to do with the villa. The thread refers to the scenario in which the slideshow was played in my Shenyang home. However, such a scenario did not take place, and the testimonies of Bogu Kailai and Xu Ming are false."
Prosecutors pointed out that, on one hand, Bo claimed that he was seeing the slideshow in court for the first time, but the other, he said he had a vague impression that he had seen it at his home: Bo alleges that Xu Ming was a friend of Bogu Kailai, but not his friend. He cannot explain why Xu owned a vehicle pass for the Ministry of Commerce.
During cross-examination, Bo did not deny basic details like "the three watching the slideshow together" and "setting up an alliance to keep the property secret at the commerce ministry," which was confirmed by Xu.
Bo's many allegations had nothing to do with the facts and evidence. The allegations were merely his explanation of facts, which cannot be proved as he cannot present any evidence. Bo's arguments were either self-contradictory or weak.
The defense lawyers questioned the legality of the evidence, the authenticity of witness testimonies, and the ownership of the property in France. Prosecutors responded to them one by one.
Dozens of financial reimbursement vouchers of the Dalian Shide Group collected by the prosecutors and several witnesses' testimonies showed that Bogu Kailai and Bo Guagua accepted benefits worth a total of 4,431,432 yuan from Xu Ming from 2004 to 2012.
Xu used the money to pay for domestic and international fights, accommodation, travel, credit card debts and buy Bo Guagua a Segway electric scooter. Bogu Kailai told Bo Xilai about Xu's payments.
Bogu Kailai testified that Bo Guagua had frequently traveled between China and abroad while he studied overseas, and the whole family of his teacher had come to Beijing. In addition, more than 40 of his foreign friends and classmates had traveled to Beijing. It was her idea to ask Xu Ming to pay all the flight and accommodation expenses. Xu readily agreed and arranged for his company staff to make the payments.
Zhang Xiaojun, a family aide of Bo who contacted Xu Ming's company staff to buy flight tickets, said in his written testimony that the tickets could be roughly categorized into three types: tickets for Bo Guagua to travel between China and his schools in Britain and the United States; tickets for Bo Guagua to go to Germany for World Cup football matches and Italy, Argentina, Cuba, France, Africa and other places for tourism; and tickets for Bo Guagua's friends, classmates and teacher.
Staff with the Dalian Shide Group testified that in August 2011, in accordance with Xu Ming's wishes, they paid for an Africa trip totaling $130,841 for Bo Guagua, family and friends.
Of the amount, $80,000 was to charter a round trip from Dubai to Kilimanjaro, and $50,841 was for hotel rooms and other expenditure in Africa. The payment was paid from Xu Ming's personal account.
A lot of evidence showed that from 2004 to the time before Bo was investigated, Bogu Kailai and Bo Guagua accepted flight tickets from Xu Ming 76 times.
During the hearing, Bo said he knew nothing about flight reimbursements and had nothing to do with the payments. He said Bogu Kailai and Bo Guagua had never mentioned the tickets to him.
Bo's lawyers said he was unaware of the details of the payments.
Prosecutors said the evidence could prove that Bo was not only aware of payments for Bo Guagua's expenses, but had clear knowledge of the nature of the power-for-money deal.
Bogu Kailai testified that Xu Ming helped her, Guagua and his friends pay for the tickets and other expenses, and Bo Xilai was aware of the financial dealings between her and Xu. She told Bo Xilai that Xu Ming was a reliable man and provided assistance for Bo Guagua's studies.
Bo said in his written confession that Xu Ming had provided a lot of assistance for Bo Guagua's studies, and for Bogu Kailai and for his family. The nature of such assistance was a special deal that "I helped him with rapid development and he helped me take care of my child."
Bogu Kailai testified that the reason Xu Ming satisfied all her requests was Bo's position.
The prosecutors pointed out that the marriage between Bo and Bogu Kailai meant a community of interests, in which a bribe-taking pattern was formed by the husband helping trustees by using political power and the wife accepting the trustees' money.
With this pattern, the prosecutors said, whether Bo was aware of the general or detailed information of his wife's dealings, whether Bo was aware beforehand or afterwards, it did not change the facts that Bo and his wife committed a common crime of bribery.