Court upholds verdict on Bo Xilai

Updated: 2013-10-26 01:00

By AN BAIJIE in Jinan (China Daily)

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Court upholds verdict on Bo Xilai

Former Chongqing Party secretary Bo Xilai appears before Shandong Higher People's Court in Jinan, Shandong province, on Friday. XIE HUANCHI / XINHUA

Shandong Higher People's Court on Friday rejected Bo Xilai's appeal and upheld his original sentence of life imprisonment for bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power.

The ruling, which also endorsed the first trial verdict to deprive Bo of his political rights for life, took immediate effect under China's Criminal Procedure Law.

In deciding to uphold the initial sentence, the court said the evidence was substantial and sufficient and legitimate trial procedures were followed.

Bo, 64, former Party secretary of Chongqing and a former member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, received a life sentence for bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power during his trial on Sept 22.

Jinan Intermediate People's Court ruled at the trial that Bo received bribes of 20.44 million yuan ($3.34 million) personally or through his family members between 1990 and 2012.

The court also convicted Bo of embezzling 5 million yuan from a public project in Dalian, Liaoning province, in 2002. The money was transferred to a bank account owned by his wife, Bogu Kailai, of which Bo was aware.

He also abused his power by blocking an investigation into a murder case, in which his wife killed British citizen Neil Heywood in November 2011, and by removing Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun from his post. This led to Wang fleeing to the US consulate in Chengdu last year, according to the trial verdict.

In his appeal, Bo raised 11 points to prove his innocence, but none of them was accepted by the appeal court.

In one point, Bo said his confessions were made under duress, and could not be taken as evidence. But the higher court said he made the confessions voluntarily and had not been subjected to physical or mental torture.

The higher court held that Bo's written confession, the testimony of witnesses, and related documents could be cross-examined.

More than 100 people, including four of Bo's relatives and journalists, heard Friday's decision, the higher court said on its website.

Before the appeal hearing, a panel set up by the higher court reviewed all the case files and video footage of the first trial and examined Bo's appeal documents and defense lawyers' opinions, the higher court said in a statement.

The panel had fully safeguarded Bo's rights by interrogating him several times, hearing the opinions of his lawyers, verifying all the evidence and examining the facts confirmed at the first trial, the statement said.

Under the Criminal Procedure Law, the second trial is the final trial in this type of case and the verdict takes immediate effect.

It means Bo will have to start serving his life term, said Li Zhaojie, a professor at Tsinghua University's School of Law.

Li said that theoretically Bo still has the chance to redress his case to Shandong Higher People's Court and the Supreme People's Court, the country's top court, by complaint, but such a complaint is not an appeal and does not affect the verdict.