Wang Lijun testifies against Bo Xilai
Former Chongqing Party chief also accused of embezzling 5 million yuan
The former vice- mayor and police chief of Chongqing convicted of defection, Wang Lijun, testified in court on Saturday that fallen senior official Bo Xilai had allegedly tried to cover up a murder case involving Bo’s wife, Bogu Kailai.
Bo, 64, a former member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Chongqing’s former Party chief, stands accused of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power. The Jinan Intermediate People’s Court started to hear the case on Thursday.
During Saturday’s trial, Wang said Bo physically attacked him on Jan 29, 2012 — a day after he told Bo that his wife Bogu Kailai had murdered British citizen Neil Heywood on Nov 15, 2011.
“He (Bo) suddenly punched me in my left ear, and it wasn’t just a slap,” Wang said in court.
“I found my mouth was bleeding, and something was flowing out of my ears ... After (Bo smashed a cup), he tried to attack me again but was stopped by Wu (a local official).”
Wang told the prosecutors that, by attacking him in front of two other officials, Bo was threatening them into silence about Bogu Kailai’s involvement in Heywood’s death.
Wang also said Bo repeatedly asked him to protect Bo’s son Bo Guagua, who was studying in the United States.
“You said that ‘there is only one guy ( Bo Guagua) who looks promising in our family’,” Wang answered when Bo questioned him in court.
During his hour and a half in court, Wang gave testimony and answered questions from prosecutors, Bo and his defense lawyers.
Wang, 53, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for bending the law for selfish ends, defection, abuse of power and accepting bribes in September 2012.
Wang covered up Heywood’s murder while serving as Chongqing’s police chief. Wang also entered the US consulate in Chengdu to attempt to defect while performing his official duties, according to the verdict of the Chengdu Intermediate People’s Court.
Bo was accused of approving the release of the false news that Wang was receiving “vacation-style treatment” after his defection.
On Saturday morning, prosecutors again accused Bo of embezzling 5 million yuan ($817,000) of project funds as Wang Zhenggang, then director of the Dalian bureau of urban and rural planning and land, testified.
The prosecutors played video and audio of Bogu Kailai’s statement when she was questioned on Aug 10.
Th e prosecutors also presented Bo’s admission and his written statement as evidence that Bo suggested Wang remit 5 million yuan of project funds to the bank account designated by Bogu Kailai.
Bo claimed he did not intend to embezzle the funds, but said he should bear some responsibility for not having closely questioned the remittance.
Bo also mentioned he had extramarital affairs, angering his wife, who left home and sent their son to a middle school in Britain.
Bo said Bogu Kailai has a strong personality and never complained to him about being short of money.
She had testified Bo knew she had received a large sum from Wang Zhenggang.
Bo’s family accredited several different lawyers while the case was under investigation, and Bo fi nally appointed Li Guifang and Wang Zhaofeng, both from Beijing’s DeHeng Law Offi ces, as his defense, Jinan Intermediate People’s Court spokesman Liu Yanjie said.
“Lots of media have been concerned about how the defendant Bo Xilai’s lawyers were selected,” Liu said, during a news briefi ng on Saturday morning.
“Bo Xilai directly hired them as his defense lawyers during the censoring and prosecution processes.”
DeHeng enjoys a reputation as one of the country’s fi rst law fi rms.
Li Guifang’s profi le on the firm’s website claims handling diffi cult criminal litigation is one of Li’s areas of expertise. Li is the deputy director of the All China Lawyers Association’s criminal committee and has been a long- term legal counsel to government agencies and State- owned enterprises.
Wang Zhaofeng’s introduction on DeHeng’s website describes him as a lawyer skilled at settling “difficult criminal cases”. He studied for the short time in the United Kingdom and the United States, aft er graduating from China’s renowned Renmin University law school, his profi le said.
China University of Political Science and Law professor Gu Yongzhong said allowing the defendant to appoint a legal counsel during criminal investigations is one of the many changes added to the latest criminal procedure code last year.
“The changes can protect defendants’ rights, since they have effectively enlarged lawyers’ roles in criminal cases, which helps ensure suspects’ rights during police investigations,” Gu said.
“The criminal investigation, which was considered highly confidential and should be carefully concealed from the outside, including from lawyers, now has to be transparent. Lawyers are there to protect the rights of the suspects who usually don’t know much about law.”
Gu said Bo is entitled to appoint lawyers as his legal counsels aft er the fi rst interrogation. But he can only have two counsels.
Chongqing’s former vice-major and police chief Wang Lijun testified on Saturday that Bo Xilai had abused his power.