Trial of Bo Xilai: Evidence, charges and defense
Updated: 2013-08-28 23:50
Suspected of power abuse
In January and February 2012, a series of incidents occurred in Chongqing. Bogu Kailai was suspected of the murder of British citizen Neil Heywood. Wang Lijun was removed from his post as the police chief of Chongqing and later fled to the US consulate in Chengdu, in a defection attempt.
At the time, Bo was a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and secretary of CPC Chongqing Municipal Committee. So what was Bo's involvement with these incidents? (According to the indictment, Bo "violated rules and executed a series of acts of power abuse."
On Jan 28, 2012, Wang reported to Bo on Bogu Kailai's suspicion of intentional homicide. The next day, Bo rebuked Wang for framing a murder accusation against Bogu Kailai, slapping Wang's face and smashing a cup.
While testifying in court, Wang Lijun recalled what happened. According to him, Bo smacked and scolded him. In doing so, Bo was employing violence to make a clear statement that Wang must stop investigating the murder case.
The testimony by Guo Weiguo, who was then the deputy police chief of Chongqing and was at the scene, corresponded with the account of Wang Lijun.
"Bo Xilai summoned me as well. Beating and rebuking Wang in front of my face, Bo was doing all he could to frighten me so that I would no longer talk of Bogu Kailai's suspicion of murder. To put it bluntly, Bo was using his power to prevent further police investigation of the murder case," according to Guo's testimony.
Court investigation found that the day Bo smacked Wang, at the request of Bogu Kailai, Bo approved investigation of Wang Zhi and Wang Pengfei, the two policemen who exposed the murder case on Wang Lijun's instruction. The two policemen investigated the murder case.
After the defection of Wang Lijun, on Bo's demand, Chongqing police interrogated Wang Pengfei and charged him with making false accusations and circumvention, the Organization Department of the CPC Chongqing Municipal Committee withdrew the nomination of Wang Pengfei as a candidate for a deputy head of Yubei District of Chongqing.
On the afternoon of Feb 1, 2012, Bo convened a Standing Committee meeting of the CPC Chongqing Municipal Committee, and sacked Wang. The removal was announced the next day on Bo's orders.
At the trial, Bo Xilai said,"I was not prudent and was at fault on this matter. It has long been held that I dismissed Wang Lijun as police chief post, but that is wrong. I just readjusted his duties, assigning him to oversee affairs of industry, commerce, education, technology. I definitely had no intention of demoting him."
The presiding judge then asked Bo whether he meant that he readjusted Wang's duties instead of sacking him as the police chief.
Bo replied,"I did dismiss Wang as police chief, but it was part of a process of reassignment."
According to rules set by the central authorities, local CPC committees must get permission from superior CPC departments of political and legal affairs in appointing or dismissing local law-enforcement officials.
The testimony by witnesses demonstrated that Bo insisted on breaking the rules and overstepped his authority by removing Wang Lijun, despite advice from several comrades.
According to Wang Lijun, Wang Zhi and Wang Pengfei, when Bogu Kailai's suspicion of murder was pointed out to him, Bo, as principal leader of Chongqing at the time, resorted to a series of acts to hinder the investigation of the murder case instead of reviewing it.
The court investigation found that after Wang Lijun defected on Feb. 6, 2012, Bo allowed his wife, who is not a civil servant, to take part in discussions about how to handle Wang's defection, and sanctioned her suggestion of asking a hospital to fake a diagnosis that Wang had mental illness.
On Feb 7, 2012, under the watch of Bogu Kailai and Wu Wenkang, a hospital in Chongqing issued a false certificate declaring Wang Lijun suffering from severe depression.
On Feb 8, 2012, Bo approved the release of the false news that Wang was receiving "vacation-style treatment".
The prosecutors said that these acts resulted in severe consequences and seriously undermined official credibility.
During cross-examination, Bo and his attorneys raised the issue that the witnesses, including Wang Lijun and Bogu Kailai, had major conflicts of interests with Bo, and questioned the objectivity and authenticity of their testimony. Bo also said that he had nothing to do with the acts of power abuse.
The prosecutors held that testimony by Wang was consistent with the testimony he gave prior to the trial and could be verified by testimony from other witnesses and documentary evidence.
Wang's testimony was real and reliable, the prosecutors said.
According to the prosecutors, pieces of evidence demonstrate that as a civil servant, Bo overstepped his authority and misused his power, a major reason for the delay to investigation of Bogu Kailai's murder case and Wang Lijun's defection, which led to severe social impacts and colossal damage to the interests of the nation and the people.
In this regard, the circumstances of the case are especially serious, its facts are clear and its evidence sufficient and reliable.
Bo's deeds accord with the constitutive requirements of the crime of power abuse as stipulated by China's criminal law.
Before and after trial
A courtroom debate between the prosecution and the defense was held on the morning of Aug 26.
Around 11 am, Li Guifang and Wang Zhaofeng of the Beijing-based DeHeng Law Offices, chosen by Bo himself to represent him, presented the defense summary.
"The defendant told us that he relied on us, trusted us, and believed in our professional loyalty and professional capability before the hearing," one of the two lawyers said.
Li Guifang offered an interview with Xinhua inside the court when Bo's trial concluded.
He said that before the trial, the defense attorneys had read all case files, copied relevant evidence, and paid Bo more than 20 visits, during which they fully exchanged views on defense strategies.
During the trial, the defense focused on the three charges and litigation procedures, especially facts the defense considered ambiguous and evidence that they thought not solid, Li said.
"We have fully expressed our views based on facts and laws," he said. "We believe the court can give a fair ruling in accordance with the law after fully considering views of the defense."
Sources told Xinhua that investigators in charge of the case looked into a total of 97 individuals with connection to or information about the case and got a lot of evidence. They also informed Bo of the right to hire lawyers.
During the case review and prosecution stage, prosecutors interrogated the defendant, not only trying to get the confession but also to study and verify his explanations according to law.
They informed the defendant of his litigation rights and assigned people to assist defense lawyers when they wanted to access case files.
Jinan People's Procuratorate instituted a public prosecution against Bo on July 25 with the three charges of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power.
Assigned by the Supreme People's Court, the Jinan Intermediate People's Court formed a collegial panel, delivered a copy of the indictment to the defendant in time and informed the latter his litigation rights.
On Aug 14, the collegial panel convened a pretrial conference, which was attended by the defendant, his lawyers and the prosecutors, to hear opinions from both the prosecution and the defense on the evidence, witnesses and other judicial procedures for the trial.
On Aug 18, the court announced the date and location of the trial and delivered a summons as well as notice of appearance to the defendant and his lawyers.
"This is my first time sitting in the public gallery to hear the trial of a high-ranking official, which let me learn lots of the details of the case," said Kong Xiangying, a resident in Tianqiao district, Jinan.
"Bo Xilai once was a senior Party official, but everybody is equal before the law. I believe the court will surely give a fair ruling," Kong said.