Former police chief a liar ‘of vile character’, Bo Xilai says
Disgraced Chinese politician denounces his wife, Gu Kailai, as insane and angry
Former Chinese politician Bo Xilai speaks in a court room at Jinan intermediate people’s court in Jinan, eastern China’s Shandong province, yesterday. Photograph: AP
Disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai has called his former protege Wang Lijun a liar during his trial, while maintaining that his wife, Gu Kailai, was insane, angry at his infidelity and testifying against him only to avoid being executed.
Mr Bo (64), the former Communist Party chief of Chongqing, has been charged with illegally taking almost 27 million yuan (€3.3 million); corruption; and abusing his power in interfering in the investigation of the murder in 2011 of British businessman Neil Heywood.
The Chinese leadership is hoping to use the trial against the former rising star of the politburo to finally put to rest the country’s biggest political scandal in decades.
“She was angry with me over my extramarital affairs,” he told the court in his testimony on Saturday.
“I feel for Gu Kailai. She is a relatively weak woman,” he said.
The fact that she was facing the death penalty for poisoning Mr Heywood, in addition to the economic crimes, meant she had to testify against Mr Bo to escape execution.
Yesterday saw the end of four days of often lurid testimony that gave an unexpectedly revealing insight into power politics in China’s political elite.
Mr Bo acknowledged that he had made mistakes in handling the scandal but denied criminal misconduct.
The weekend’s key testimony came from Mr Wang, Mr Bo’s former police chief, who alleged that his former boss had abused his power as the Communist Party secretary of Chongqing to block an investigation into the murder of Mr Heywood.
Mr Bo told the Jinan intermediate people’s court yesterday that his former right-hand man was “a person of vile character, who constantly lied in court and muddied the waters”.
Mr Wang, who was in a wheelchair, having apparently suffered a stroke in the interim period, testified that he had fled to the US consulate in Chengdu in February last year, after he had told Mr Bo that Ms Gu had poisoned Mr Heywood. Before his flight, Mr Wang said, there was an altercation with Mr Bo in which his former boss punched him.
Lack of strength
Mr Bo said he could not have punched Mr Wang because he has no Chinese boxing experience and lacked the necessary physical strength.
“He said it was not a slap but a punch but I’ve never learned how to box and have no great strength to strike out,” Mr Bo said.
After the round of evidence concluded yesterday, the court said all the evidence in the trial had been presented. The trial was adjourned until today, when closing arguments are expected to take place.
A verdict is expected next month. The trial had been expected to be a formality but has gone on much longer than other public trials of senior figures, including that of Gu last year.
Foreign journalists have been barred from the trial – information about it has been made available by means of microblog postings on the court Weibo feed and court transcripts.