Wednesday 13 December 2017

Bo Xilai gets life for murder cover-up and taking bribes

Disgraced politician Bo Xilai is led away to begin his sentence
Disgraced politician Bo Xilai is led away to begin his sentence

Malcolm Moore Beijing

Bo Xilai, the maverick Chinese leader, has been sentenced to life imprisonment for taking millions in bribes, embezzling public money and trying to cover up the murder of the British businessman Neil Heywood.

A court in the eastern city of Jinan ruled that the 64-year-old had "gravely damaged the country and the people's interests" and had committed "serious crimes".

He was given a life sentence for corruption, 15 years for embezzlement and seven years for abuse of power, all to run concurrently.

Bo, a former Communist Party chief in the south-western city of Chongqing, was also stripped of his "political rights", losing his ability to vote and hold office, and his right to free speech. The sentence doused any remaining political ambition for Bo, at least under a Communist government.

Just over €2.3m of the Bo family's assets was confiscated by the court, including a villa in the south of France that proved a key plank in the corruption case against him.

HANDCUFFED

After the presiding judge, Wang Xuguang, finished reading the verdict, Bo was handcuffed and led away. Outside the court, a heavy police presence prevented any repeat of the protests that broke out during Bo's trial at the end of last month.

Bo will be eligible for parole after 13 years and can apply to have his sentence reduced after two years.

The Chinese media suggested that Bo would be transferred to Qincheng prison outside Beijing. Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, is serving a suspended death sentence at Yancheng prison in Hebei province for Mr Heywood's murder.

At Qincheng, Bo can expect to serve his time in a 200 sq ft cell, with a window and a lavatory, and will not be required to wear prison fatigues. "He will have milk for breakfast, two dishes and one soup for both lunch and dinner," wrote the 'Sina' web portal.

One Beijing lawyer suggested that Bo was more likely to be transferred to house arrest in a private facility. Bo did not immediately lodge an appeal to the sentence in court, but several media reports suggested that he may do so in the next 10 days. Three of Bo's family members were in court, as well as He Zhengsheng, a lawyer representing the family of Neil Heywood. Mr He did not respond to questions over whether Mr Heywood's family had agreed a compensation deal over his death.

Bo remained defiant throughout his five-day trial, but the court rejected his claim that evidence had been extracted from him under duress.

Instead, it upheld almost all of the prosecution case, only granting Bo two small triumphs. The judges agreed that withdrawals from a joint safety deposit box by Gu could not be linked to bribes received by Bo. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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