Bo Xilai loses appeal against life sentence

Former senior Chinese official convicted of taking €3.26m in illegal payments from prominent businessmen

Bo Xilai  stands as the decision of his appeal is announced at the Shandong Higher People’s Court in Jinan. Photograph: Reuters.

Bo Xilai stands as the decision of his appeal is announced at the Shandong Higher People’s Court in Jinan. Photograph: Reuters.

Sat, Oct 26, 2013, 01:00



As had been widely expected, purged senior Chinese official Bo Xilai lost his appeal against a life sentence for corruption.

Making his final public appearance in a Jinan courtroom yesterday, the man once tipped for the pinnacle of power in China was shuffled off to prison by two policemen.

Crucially, the decision to deny him his appeal removes him from the political stage ahead of a key leadership meeting next month on economic policy, the third plenary session of the 18th Central Committee.

The Shandong Provincial Higher People’s Court decision to uphold Bo’s conviction is no surprise, as the courts are controlled by the ruling Communist Party which considered him guilty long before the trial.

Out of spotlight
The leadership will be keen to keep him out of the spotlight for long enough that he cannot make a comeback.

President Xi Jinping used the case to signal his determination to push through his anti-corruption campaign, especially with the plenum looming next month that he will use to cement his powerful position.

Bo’s crimes “led to extremely severe social consequences and caused major damage to the interest of the country and the people”, according to the ruling, posted on the court’s website.

The state broadcaster CCTV showed Bo in court wearing a black jacket over a white shirt, faintly smiling as he stood flanked by two tall uniformed guards.

Bo (64) looked set for big things until he disappeared from public view in April last year after a scandal set off by his wife, Gu Kailai’s poisoning of a British businessman, Neil Heywood.

He was convicted of taking 27 million yuan (€3.26 million) in illegal payments from prominent businessmen.

Elite prison
Bo is expected to serve his term at Qincheng Prison, north of Beijing, which houses offenders from the political elite and is plush by Chinese prison standards.

His late father Bo Yibo was a Communist Party blueblood and the last of a group of party leaders who consolidated their power in the 1980s and 1990s, oversaw the Tiananmen Square massacre and are known as the “Eight Immortals”.