Court to allow Bo Xilai appeal conviction

Former Chinese politician sentenced last month to life imprisonment for bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power

Former China’s Chongqing Municipality Communist Party Secretary Bo Xilai.

Former China’s Chongqing Municipality Communist Party Secretary Bo Xilai.


A provincial court in Jinan has given permission for purged former top Communist Party official Bo Xilai to appeal his conviction for bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power.

The life sentence handed down last month brought to an end the career of one of China’s most successful populist politicians. He had a high profile in his various guises as charismatic party boss in the southwest city of Chongqing, as a trade tsar and as mayor of the rich coastal city of Dalian.

“Mr Bo did not accept his sentence at the first trial at the Jinan Intermediate People’s Court in east China’s Shandong province and submitted an appeal to the Shandong Higher People’s Court,” the Xinhua news agency reported, citing the higher court.

Bo (64) looked destined for the very top until he suddenly disappeared from public view in April last year after a scandal set off by the poisoning of a British businessman, Neil Heywood, by his wife, Gu Kailai.

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

The court statement did not say when the appeal would be heard, although it should technically be within two months.

It had been widely expected that Bo would use his right to appeal, but his sentence is very unlikely to be reversed as the courts are controlled by the ruling Communist Party which considered him guilty long before the trial.

Bo’s 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 who are known as the “Eight Immortals”.

Never in doubt
While the verdict was never really in doubt, the way it was carried out appeared more transparent than most cases in China. The leadership also used the case as an example of how China’s rule of law was a force to be reckoned with.

The way the case was dealt with in public gave Chinese people a rare glimpse into how decisions are made and contained information about the lifestyles of those in power.

However, independent journalists were not allowed to attend the trial.