bo ally ‘guilty’

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An ally of disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai has received a suspended death sentence for taking millions of yuan in bribes, in the latest fallout from one of China’s biggest political scandals.

Tang Jianhua, once deputy police chief in the giant south-west city of Chongqing, where Bo was Communist Party chief, was found guilty of taking 17 million yuan (£1.8m) in bribes, according to Li Zhuang, a lawyer and prominent opponent of Bo during his time as party boss.

The sentence was handed down by a Chongqing court more than a month ago, Mr Li revealed yesterday.

Bo was ousted from his post last year after his estranged police chief, Wang Lijun, fled briefly to an American consulate and accused Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, of poisoning the British businessman, Neil Heywood, found dead in a Chongqing hotel room in November 2011. He was 41.

Gu and Wang have since been convicted and jailed. As a party loyalist, Gu admitted killing Heywood, according to state media reports of her trial. She was given a suspended death sentence in August 2012.

Bo, 63, had once been widely tipped for promotion to the party’s elite inner core.

No criminal charges against him have been announced but Tang’s conviction, if confirmed, would indicate that prosecutors are gradually resolving cases linked to him.

The Central Discipline Inspection Commission, the anti-corruption authority investigating Bo and his allies, last year ordered Tang to face questioning. He was arrested in September.

A suspended death sentence means Tang will probably face life in prison as long as he does not commit any offences in the next two years. Bo has reportedly refused to co-operate with investigators, going on hunger strike and growing a long beard. As a Communist Party member, he is first subject to its discipline system. A court trial is, therefore, a formality, the party having directed judges what verdict to deliver.