THE crimes of fallen Chinese politician Bo Xilai were “extremely serious”, prosecutors said on Monday as his bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power trial began moving into its final stages.
The description is a key factor in Chinese sentencing, where courts must generally find that offenses are “extremely serious” and there are no mitigating factors if they are to impose the death penalty.
Analysts widely believe that despite the drama of the trial, which has seen Bo mount a feisty defense, a guilty verdict is a foregone conclusion and a long prison sentence has already been agreed.
But under Chinese law the death penalty is available for cases of bribery involving more than 100,000 yuan ($16,000) and the prosecution told the court: “The defendant’s crimes are extremely serious.
“He pleaded not guilty to the charges, and there are no extenuating circumstances suggesting lighter punishment. It must be dealt with severely according to the law.”
The comments were according to the Intermediate People’s Court in Jinan, which is posting regular but delayed transcripts of the proceedings on its account on Sina Weibo, a Twitter equivalent, in a move hailed by state media as unprecedented transparency.
But no foreign media are present in court and no independent verification is possible. The delays in posting the transcripts have lengthened as the trial has gone on, and Monday’s posting of the prosecutor’s address was taken down within minutes of being published.
It was reposted and taken down again, before being re-published with one section deleted in which Bo had claimed to have been acting on orders from his “superiors” when he obtained a fake medical certificate about Wang Lijun, his police chief and right-hand man in the southwestern mega city of Chongqing, who had fled to a US consulate.
Wang’s attempt to seek asylum revealed the scandal surrounding the death of British businessman Neil Heywood, for which the politician’s wife Gu Kailai convicted of murder.
During the proceedings Bo has dismissed Gu as “insane”, compared another prosecution witness to a “mad dog”, and launched a scathing attack on Wang as “full of lies and fraud”.
Bo has admitted mistakes relating to the investigation into Heywood’s killing and “some responsibility” for embezzled state funds that were transferred to one of Gu’s bank accounts, but denies all the charges.
The court has finished hearing evidence from witnesses and written testimony, and has moved to discussing the prosecution and defense cases, expected to be one of the last sections of the proceedings. AFP