Second day of Bo Xilai trial probes funds

By Xinhua – Global Times Source:Xinhua - Global Times Published: 2013-8-24 1:23:01

Former senior official Bo Xilai on Friday denied he knew the exact amount of illegally obtained money his wife and son had spent, as he stood trial for the second day in the Jinan Intermediate People's Court for alleged bribe taking, embezzlement and abuse of power.

The 64-year-old Bo is former secretary of the Chongqing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and a former member of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau.

Prosecutors accused Bo of accepting bribes worth about 21.8 million yuan ($3.5 million) from businessmen Tang Xiaolin and Xu Ming and embezzling 5 million yuan in public funds from the Dalian city government. He was also accused of abusing his power when dealing with his wife Bogu Kailai's murder case and the defection of his associate, Wang Lijun, in 2012.

On the second day of the trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Bo accepted a large sum of money and property from Xu Ming through Bogu Kailai and his son, Bo Guagua.

In the morning session, prosecutors presented documentary evidence and played a video recording of Bogu Kailai's testimony from August 10 this year.

Prosecutors also read testimony by Bogu Kailai and Frenchman Patrick Devillers.

Video and audio evidence shown in court indicated that Xu Ming provided funds for Bogu Kailai to buy a villa in France worth over 2.32 million euros ($3.1 million), and that Bo Xilai was aware of this.

In the afternoon session, evidence included testimony of witnesses including Zhang Xiaojun, photographs of material evidence, confessions and the handwritten confessions of the defendant, showing that through his wife and son, Bo received almost 4.43 million yuan from Xu Ming, to pay for international and domestic air tickets, accommodation and traveling expenses, paying off credit card debt, and buying a Segway scooter.

Prosecutors, the defendant and his lawyers all examined the evidence.

Confronted with the charges, Bo said that the evidence was irrelevant, saying he had only a vague impression of amounts and no one had told him exactly how much money was being spent. His lawyers made comments regarding the veracity of witness testimonies and the legality of the documentary evidence.

The prosecutor responded directly, pointing out that the defendant had expressed numerous conflicting views on key facts during his defense.

Prosecutors said that the evidence presented in court was taken legally from clear sources and should be examined comprehensively in the context of the entire case.

Wang Zhenggang, the then director of the Dalian bureau of urban and rural planning and land, appeared in the afternoon session to testify regarding the embezzlement charge against Bo.

After the Friday trial, the spokesperson of the Jinan Intermediate People's Court briefed the media. The spokesperson said the court approved all applications by Bo, who was emotionally stable and physically healthy during the trial, to express his views.

The case was closely followed by the public for the second consecutive day on Friday, as the court continued to broadcast live the proceedings through Weibo updates.  

"A case so sensitive and so widely watched has rarely been made public with such a degree of transparency in the country," Tian Wenchang, a lawyer with the Criminal Law Committee under the China Lawyers Association, told the Global Times on Friday.

"The Jinan Intermediate People's Court has handled the case well and set a good example," Tian added.

Previous trials of other high-level officials, such as that of former railways minister Liu Zhijun, were not made public with such transparency.

Duan Wanjin, a Shaanxi-based criminal lawyer, applauded the case as "one of the best handled cases" he had seen in his career.

"It could be the one trial that pushes forward reform in the judicial system," Duan told the Global Times on Friday.

Several newspapers had commented on the case as of Friday.

The news portal said in a commentary that Bo has the right to argue in court but "facts and evidence will eventually reveal whatever crime he had committed and the law will decide, with impartiality, what punishment he will face."

The news portal also said the public trial, together with its Weibo updates, is a clear signal that justice needs to be achieved in a visible way.

The Hong Kong-based Ta Kung Pao newspaper said the case shows the government's confidence.

"The public trial of Bo Xilai once again reflects how determined the central government is to fight corruption and power abuse," said the paper. "It sends out an important message to all government officials that no matter how powerful they are, they will face judgment if they break the law."

The court will continue to hear the case on Saturday to maintain the continuity of the trial.

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