Bo Xilai trial enters second day

Bo Xilai trial enters second day

A second day of hearings is under way in the trial of Bo Xilai, the former top Chinese politician charged with bribery, corruption and abuse of power.

On Thursday Mr Bo, the former Chongqing Communist Party chief, denied accepting bribes from businessmen.

He said he was coerced into making a confession and rubbished testimony from witnesses who included his wife.

The indictment links the abuse of power charge to his wife’s role in the murder of a British businessman, Neil Heywood.

Foreign media are not being allowed into the trial, which is taking place in the city of Jinan in Shandong province.

But the Jinan Intermediate People’s Court is posting updates and relevant testimony on its official microblog.

It is not clear, says the BBC’s Celia Hatton in Beijing, whether the events on Thursday constituted tightly-scripted political theatre or an unexpectedly colourful legal showdown.

Analysts say the trial is as much about getting rid of a popular politician as it is about criminal wrongdoing. Mr Bo is widely expected to be found guilty.

“It would be inconceivable if the verdict has not already been agreed,” said Steve Tsang, professor of Chinese studies at Nottingham University.

“The trial of someone as important as Bo Xilai is not something that could be left to the judges presiding over it. It will have to be agreed by the Politburo Standing Committee after serious discussions.”

‘Crazy dog’

Thursday was the first time Mr Bo, 64, had been seen in public for almost 18 months. Two years ago he was seen as a candidate for promotion to China’s seven-member top decision-making body.

He said that he “knew nothing” about a property owned by his wife near Nice in France or about Xu Ming sponsoring his son Bo Guagua’s schooling.

Xu Ming is in custody. Tang Xiaolin’s whereabouts are unclear.

Early proceedings on Friday continued to focus on the bribery charges. It is not clear how long the trial will last.

According to the indictment, the corruption charges relate to the alleged embezzlement of public money in 2002.

“While serving as governor of Liaoning Province, Bo used his post to conspire with others to embezzle 5m yuan of public funds from the Dalian government,” it said.

The abuse of power charge is connected to his wife’s role in Mr Heywood’s murder and his treatment of Wang Lijun, his now-jailed former police chief whose flight to the US consulate brought the case out into the open, it said.

In February 2012, around the time that China was preparing to promote a new generation of leaders, Wang Lijun fled to the US consulate in Chengdu amid an apparent fall-out with Mr Bo.

Shortly afterwards, Chinese authorities announced that they were reinvestigating the death of Mr Heywood, and both Mr Bo and his wife disappeared from public view.

Gu Kailai has since been jailed for the murder of Mr Heywood – a crime she carried out, state media say, because of differences over a business deal. Wang has also been jailed for his role in covering up events, among other charges.

Mr Bo is the last major player in connection with the case to face trial.