The fallen hero of China’s Communist Party has done it again. Though his sensational trial ended yesterday with a very high probability of his conviction, the shrewd politician who once commanded a cult-like status in the province of Chongqing put up an unexpectedly brave show in the court room. Trashing the testimonies of the major witnesses including his wife, Bo, probably knowing that he didn’t have much to lose, admitted earlier in the trial that he had made some mistakes.
Once a respected figure in Chinese political circles, the former boss of the Chongqing Municipality has seen his fortunes dive sharply in the last one year after the mysterious murder of Neil Heywood, a British businessman close to his wife. Bo’s wife Gu Kailai fell foul of the law last year following a protracted scandal that was sparked after a police chief sought shelter in the US Consulate in Chongqing. Amid speculation that Wang Lijun, famous for fighting corruption with an iron hand in Chongqing, where he headed the police force, was seeking asylum, the Communist party honchos in Beijing came out with a statement declaring that Wang was being sent on leave for stress and over-work.
In the courtroom where the much-vaunted trial was taking place yesterday, Bo let another skeleton tumble out of the cupboard. He revealed that police chief Wang had an affair with his wife and it was for this reason that he sacked him. On Sunday, the wily politician had admitted to having an extra-marital affair.
Appearing as a witness in the trial, the convicted police chief who is serving a prison term, said that Bo punched him on the ear when he told him that his wife Gu was behind Heywood’s murder. Bo baulked at the allegation saying that he was no boxer to have done so.
Heywood died under suspicious circumstances in Chongqing in November 2011. His death drew headlines and later the incident got entangled with the fate of Bo, who was later fired by Communist Party bosses. In her dramatic testimony, Gu threw many punches at Bo, who contended that she had lost her mental balance.
The trial, publicised by a daily official statement of the proceedings on Shina Weibo, the equivalent of Twitter in China, has riveted the nation with its lurid details and sensational revelations. The government is trying to fight corruption within the establishment and the party and has tried to make the case an example of the party’s commitment to its anti-graft campaign. The Chinese are eagerly waiting for the sentencing of Bo after the four-and-half-day courtroom proceedings. It is for the world to see how the Communist Party is going to make an example of Bo to send a message to other corrupt bureaucrats and party officials•