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Bo Xilai denies charges of bribery
Publication Date : 23-08-2013
China's fallen official is also facing counts of embezzlement and abuse of power
Former senior Chinese official Bo Xilai denied bribery charges against him during the first day of the high-profile court hearing on Thursday.
Bo, 64, a former member of the country's top-ruling Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and former Party chief of Chongqing, stood on trial on charges of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power at Jinan Intermediate People's Court.
"The judge had given the prosecutors and Bo enough opportunities to pose questions during the trial, and Bo's rights as a defendant have been guaranteed," said Liu Yanjie, the court‘s spokesman.
According to the indictment, from 1999 to 2012, Bo was asked by Tang Xiaolin, general manager of Dalian International Development, and Xu Ming, chairman of Dalian Shide Group, to provide help for related parties and individuals to obtain preferential quotas to import cars and work on petrochemical projects, and in doing so Bo took advantage of his posts as mayor of Dalian, secretary of the CPC Dalian committee, governor of Liaoning province and Minister of Commerce.
In return, Bo accepted bribes worth about 21.8 million yuan (US$3.5 million) from Tang and Xu directly, or through his wife Bogu Kailai and his son Bo Guagua.
In 2002, while serving as governor of Liaoning province, Bo used his post to conspire with others to embezzle 5 million yuan of public funds from the Dalian government.
In January and February of 2012, while serving as Chongqing Party chief, Bo abused his power when it was reported that Bogu Kailai was suspected of intentional homicide, and when then vice mayor of Chongqing Wang Lijun fled, the indictment said.
Further abuses of power include impeding the reinvestigation of Bogu Kailai's case and approving the release of false news that Wang was on "sick leave".
Bo's actions caused delays in the reinvestigation and led to Wang fleeing to the US consulate in Chengdu.
His behaviour has had a severe social impact and damaged the country and the people's interests. Bo will bear criminal responsibility for taking bribes, embezzlement and abuse of power, the indictment said.
Bo made a statement denying the charge of bribery on Thursday.
Prosecutors and defence lawyers questioned and cross-examined him, as well as witness Xu Ming, who gave testimony in court.
During the seven-hour session, prosecutors presented documentary evidence and witness testimony, together with video and audio materials of the examination of witnesses.
The court approved all applications by Bo to express his views, said court spokesman Liu Yanjie, adding that Bo was "emotionally stable" and "physically healthy" during the trial.
Wang Minyuan, a criminal procedure law professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the defendant's legal right of pleading was guaranteed during the hearing, based on the information provided on the court's micro blog.
"He had the right to inquire and argue in court, as well as his lawyers. The court proceeding went on in a legitimate and smooth way, and I hope that can be carried on until the judges reach a verdict," he said.
Lin Zhe, a professor at the Party School of the Central Committee of the CPC, said the openness of Thursday's trial has illustrated the determination of the central government to crack down on corruption and abuse of power.
She said it is unusual in China to put a high-ranking official on trial in such an open way.
"It has been open throughout the whole process of the trial, including announcing the trial in advance on the Internet, accepting the public sign-up for the hearing, and the broadcasting of the trial online," she said.
She said the open trial could deter officials from committing similar job-related crimes. "They will know what awaits them if they do the same thing."
In 2012, a total of 4,698 officials of county-level or above were punished by the party's top discipline watchdog, and 961 officials at county level or above have been transferred to judicial organs, according to the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.
The party's new leadership has further prioritised the battle against graft since it stepped into power in November.
Party chief Xi Jinping has pledged to restrict power "in a cage of regulations" and vowed to crack down on both "tigers" and "flies", which refer to high- and low-ranking officials.
At least eight ministerial-level officials have been exposed for corruption since November, including Li Chuncheng, deputy governor of Sichuan, and Liu Tienan, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission.
The trial continues on Friday.
Xinhua contributed to this story.