Verdict on Bo Xilai’s appeal on Friday
Beijing – A Chinese high court will on Friday give its verdict on disgraced Chinese leader Bo Xilai’s appeal against the life sentence given to him last month on charges of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power.
The Shandong Higher People’s Court said it will announce the decision on October 25, effectively ruling out any hearing that Bo may have expected to refute the charges.
The Jinan Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Bo to life imprisonment on September 22.
Bo, 64, regarded as a rebel heading the pro-Maoist faction in ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), had countered the charges at Jinan court, stretching the one day trial to five days, garnering local and international publicity.
He did not accept his sentence and submitted an appeal to the Shandong Higher People’s Court. This was his last legal avenue to defend himself, after which, if found guilty, Bo would serve his sentence in a special prison, which according to reports will have luxurious facilities.
State-run Xinhua news agency did not specify whether there will be a hearing or it will be a mere review of the evidence scrutinised by the lower court.
Experts quoted by the state-run CCTV said it very unlikely that the high court will overturn the judgement, as appeals process is determined by evidence presented by prosecution.
Bo, who held many top posts including the country’s Commerce Minister, was found guilty of taking bribes totalling to 20.44 million yuan ( USD 3.3 million) either personally or through his family members, between 1999 and 2012.
The intermediate court also convicted Bo of stealing 5 million yuan of government funds. He was also convicted of abusing his power while handling the murder of British citizen Neil Heywood, for which his wife Gu Kailai was sentenced to death.
Bo’s top aide Wang Lijun- who fled to a US consulate, reportedly seeking asylum- was also imprisoned for covering up her involvement in the death, among other offences.