BEIJING: The dramatic trial of fallen Chinese politician Bo Xilai ended yesterday with prosecutors pushing for a heavy sentence over a murder and corruption scandal that shook the Communist Party.
Bo’s crimes of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power were “extremely serious” and there were no mitigating factors, they said.
The description is a key factor in Chinese sentencing, where courts must generally find both conditions apply if they are to impose the death penalty.
Analysts widely believe that despite the drama of the five-day trial, which saw Bo mount a feisty defence, a guilty verdict is a foregone conclusion and a long prison sentence has already been agreed.
Bo, a populist leftist whose Maoist revivalism drew wide attention, was once the Communist chief of the southwestern megacity of Chongqing, one of the 25 highest-ranking members of the ruling party and tipped to ascend even higher.
The Intermediate People’s Court in Jinan said on its verified account on Sina Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter, that it would hand down its verdict at a later date.
Under Chinese law the death penalty is available for cases of bribery involving more than 100,000 yuan ($16,000) and the prosecution told the court: “The defendant’s crimes are extremely serious.
“He pleaded not guilty to the charges, and there are no extenuating circumstances suggesting lighter punishment. It must be dealt with severely according to the law.”
In a final address to the court Bo struck an emotional note. “I’m trapped deep in the disaster of being in prison,” he said. “I’m haunted by all sorts of feelings and all I have left is the remaining time of my life.”
“I failed to keep my family members and subordinates within bounds. I made significant mistakes. I feel guilty towards the party and the public.”
Throughout the trial -- originally expected to last only two days -- the court posted regular but delayed transcripts of the proceedings on its Weibo account, in a move hailed by state media as unprecedented transparency.
But no foreign media were present in the room and no independent verification was possible.
The delays in posting the transcripts lengthened as the trial went on, and yesterday’s posting of the prosecutor’s address was taken down within minutes of being published.
In it, Bo had claimed to have been acting on orders from his “superiors” when he obtained a fake medical certificate about Wang Lijun, his police chief and right-hand man in Chongqing, who had fled to a US consulate.
Yesterday he said he had confessed while under interrogation because he “still had a hope at the time, which was to keep my party membership and to keep my political career alive”.