China: CPL Bo Xilai sentenced to life;Stripped of all political rights

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China: Bo Xilai sentenced to life
Beijing, Sept 22: Disgraced top Communist Party leader Bo Xilai was today sentenced to life imprisonment by a Chinese court which upheld the charges of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power against him.

The Jinan Intermediate Court in east China's Shandong province, which conducted an unprecedented "open trial" last month for five days, convicted the former Politburo member and Chongqing city Communist Party chief on all the three charges.

More than 100 people were permitted to witness the trial

In its judgement delivered at a packed room, the court sentenced Bo to life in prison on the bribery charges, 15 years for embezzlement and seven years for abuse of power. Bo, 64, was sacked as the head of the Chongqing city last year and removed from the ruling party following allegations of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power against him.

The court also stripped Bo of all political rights and ordered the confiscation of his property, official media said. He was accused of receiving 20 million Yuan (USD 3.5 Million) as bribes and owning a luxury villa in France.

Bo, who vehemently denied all charges, would file an appeal against the judgement to a higher court in Shandong province whose verdict would be final, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post said.

The hearing was regarded as the Communist China's most sensitive political trial after the 1981 'Gang of Four' trial involving Mao Zedong's widow Jing Qing.

A charismatic Bo, widely expected to be a front runner for a top post in the once-in-a-decade leadership change of the ruling Communist Party of China, also served as head of Dalian city and Commerce Minister of China.

Bo's downfall was set in motion by his wife Gu Kailai's murder of British businessman Neil Heywood, which followed defection of his top police aide Wang Lijun to a US consulate in Chengdu. Gu was given a suspended death sentence, whereas Wang is serving a 15-year prison term for his act to take asylum in US Consulate as well as bribery and other crimes.

During Bo's trial, prosecutors demanded a heavy sentence for the fallen politician. At their summarising statement, prosecutors said the evidence presented in court and during cross-examination fully demonstrated clear facts and evidence is sufficient to charge Bo with the crimes.

More than 100 people, including Bo's family and relatives, deputies to people's congresses, political advisors, ordinary citizens and journalists from the official were permitted to witness the trial.

During the trial, both the prosecution and defence had fully cross-examined the evidence and witnesses and expressed their opinions. For the first time in China's judicial history, the Jinan court has issued updates in its microblog at Sina Weibo.

The court account attracted more than 582,000 followers from August 18, the day it opened, to August 26 when the trial ended.

PTI

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