Bo Xilai hits out at ‘vile’ former police chief

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FALLEN senior Chinese politician Bo Xilai has angrily denounced his former police chief and right-hand-man on the fourth day of his trial, calling him a “vile character” who faked testimony implicating Bo in covering up a murder committed by his wife.

Bo was a rising star in China’s highest leadership circles when his career was stopped short last year by a murder scandal which saw his wife Gu Kailai convicted of poisoning British businessman Neil Heywood.

Bo is now on trial charged with corruption, taking bribes and abuse of power, the last of which is especially sensitive as it involves allegations Bo challenged the authority of the ruling Communist Party.

Despite Bo’s feisty defence, a guilty verdict is a foregone conclusion as China’s courts are controlled by the Communist Party. State media, which speaks for the party, has already all but condemned him.

Since the trial began on Thursday in eastern Jinan city, Bo has repeatedly said he is not guilty of any wrongdoing and has called his wife’s testimony against him the ravings of a mad woman. Yesterday, Bo rebutted earlier testimony from his former police chief, Wang Lijun, who carried out Bo’s crackdown on crime and gangs in Chongqing, where Bo was Communist Party chief.

Wang said he had told Bo that his wife, Gu, once a glamorous lawyer, had murdered Mr Heywood, who had been a family friend.

“During Wang Lijun’s testimony he is continuing to lie obviously, and what he is saying is totally unreliable, it is full of deception, he’s just mouthing off,” Bo told the court, according to the court’s official account.

“He has a vile character, spreading rumours here and muddying the waters.”

Wang said when he told Bo that Gu had poisoned Mr Heywood, Bo was furious and punched him, leaving him “bleeding from the mouth”, according to testimony on Saturday. Wang said Bo did not accept Gu’s involvement in the murder and had sacked him.

“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,” Bo said.

Wang fled to the US consulate in the nearby city of Chengdu in February last year after confronting Bo with evidence about Gu, according to official accounts. After first helping Gu evade suspicion of poisoning Mr Heywood, Wang hushed up evidence of the murder, according to the official account of Wang’s trial. Wang has also been convicted and jailed over Mr Heywood’s murder.

On Saturday, Bo admitted to shaming his country and poorly handling a defection attempt by Wang, but Bo denied trying to protect his wife from Wang’s murder accusation.

Many in China have been fascinated by the trial and it was an unusual decision to carry at least part of the proceedings online on the court’s official microblog, though what is coming out is likely highly edited.

The rare show of openness is seen as an attempt to lend credibility to what is in effect a political show trial. Bo, in return, has refrained from using the trial as a stage on which to denounce the administration and the opponents who purged him – which would likely be the leadership’s worst nightmare.

“So far, the worst has been avoided,” said Ding Xueliang, a Chinese politics expert at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. “He’s been trying to play the game within the limitations set up by the Chinese leadership.

“He [Bo] does not talk about politically sensitive things, even though everybody inside and outside China knows that he’s in trouble for politics.”

The testimony has also offered a salacious glimpse into the glitzy lifestyles of China’s elite politicians, complete with private jets and expensive foreign holidays, reinforcing a campaign by president Xi Jinping against corruption and opulence.

Communist Party mouthpiece the People’s Daily, in a front page editorial yesterday, warned officials that the “worship of gold and material possessions” was the road to ruin.

“This causes people to go bad politically, be economically avaricious, morally degenerate and depraved,” it said.

After testimony concluded yesterday, the court said all evidence in the trial had been presented.

The trial was adjourned until today, when closing arguments are expected to take place.