Trial of Bo Xilai opens

By Xinhua – Global Times Source:Global Times Published: 2013-8-23 0:53:01

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Fallen official Bo Xilai stands open trial
Bo Xilai charged with bribery, power abuse

Former Chongqing Party chief Bo Xilai Thursday stood the first day of an open trial, which was made public through continuous microblog updates, for alleged bribe taking, embezzlement and abuse of power at a local court in Jinan, East China's Shandong Province.

Law experts noted that the unprecedented open trial of a high-level official reported via microblog demonstrated the openness and transparency of the trial and played a significant role in pushing forward the progress of the legal system.

Throughout the trial, the official Sina Weibo account of the Jinan Intermediate People's Court updated texts, photos and an audio clip of the trial, and carried unabridged transcripts of the proceedings.

According to the indictment, from 1999 to 2012, Bo was asked by Tang Xiaolin, general manager of Dalian International Development Co Ltd, and Xu Ming, chairman of Dalian Shide Group Co Ltd, to provide help for related parties and individuals to obtain preferential quotas to import cars and work on petrochemical projects, and Bo took advantage of his posts as mayor of Dalian, secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Dalian committee, governor of Northeast China's Liaoning Province and minister of commerce in doing so.

In return, Bo accepted bribes worth about 21.8 million yuan ($3.5 million) from Tang and Xu directly, or through his wife Bogu Kailai and his son Bo Guagua. "The amount was especially huge," the indictment said.

In 2002, while serving as governor of Liaoning Province, Bo used his post to conspire with others to embezzle 5 million yuan in public funds from the Dalian government. "The sum was huge," said the indictment.

In January and February of 2012, while serving as secretary of the CPC Chongqing Municipal Committee, Bo abused his power when it was reported that Bogu Kailai was suspected of intentional homicide, and when then vice mayor of Chongqing Wang Lijun defected, the indictment said.

Further abuses of power include impeding the reinvestigation of Bogu Kailai's case and approving the release of false news that Wang was receiving "vacation-style treatment."

Bo's actions caused delays to the reinvestigation and led to Wang's defection. His behavior has had a severe social impact and damaged both the country and people's interests. Bo should bear criminal responsibility for taking bribes, embezzlement and abuse of power, said the indictment.

Thursday's trial focused on the alleged bribe-taking by Bo, and was held from 8:43 am to about 6 pm with several adjournments.

Prosecutors presented documentary evidence and witness testimony, together with video and audio materials of the examination of witnesses.

Bo made a statement denying the charge of bribery. He said his written confession was made under "psychological pressure" last year.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers questioned and cross-examined both the accused and witness Xu Ming, who gave testimony in court.

The court approved all applications by Bo to express his views.

At a media briefing following the trial, Liu Yanjie, spokesperson of the court, said Bo was emotionally stable and physically healthy during the trial.

According to the spokesperson, five of Bo's relatives, 19 journalists and 86 people from all walks of life, including lawmakers and political advisors, attended the trial.

The public, who followed the hearing through Weibo, applauded the openness and transparency of the proceeding.

"The open trial made people feel like they were sitting in the court. It has surpassed people's expectations. The whole process was open and transparent. It will definitely set a good example for the coming cases and boost the openness of other cases," Xie Youping, a law professor with Fudan University, commented on his Weibo page.

Trials of other high-level officials, such as the one of former railways minister Liu Zhijun earlier this year, were not made public in the way Bo's case was.

"The open trial of officials above ministerial level is a great step for the Chinese legal system. It also reflected the central and local governments' resolve in fighting corruption," Liu Xiaoyuan, a Beijing-based lawyer, told the Global Times.

The trial demonstrates the justice of China's legal system, Chen Tao, a lawyer with the Criminal Law Committee under the Beijing Lawyers Association, noted.

"On the one hand, the judge fully protected the legal rights of the defendant as Bo and his defender were given enough time and opportunities to defend, and on the other, Bo's standing trial has proven that no matter how high-ranking the official is, he should face the law if he violated it," Chen told the Global Times.

The hearing will continue on Friday.

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