Bo in­sists he did not abuse power

Ev­i­dence sug­gests fallen offi cial’s be­hav­ior at court will not merit any le­nient pun­ish­ment

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By AN BAIJIE in Ji­nan ZHAO YI­NAN in Bei­jing

For­mer Chongqing Party chief Bo Xi­lai on Sun­day de­nied the charge of abus­ing power to cover up a mur­der case in­volv­ing his wife and to sack a po­lice chief with­out proper pro­ce­dures, as the high-pro­file trial en­tered its fourth day.

Bo, 64, a for­mer mem­ber of the Po­lit­i­cal Bureau of the Com­mu­nist Party of China Cen­tral Com­mit­tee, was charged with bribery, em­bez­zle­ment and abuse of power.

The trial started on Thurs­day at Ji­nan In­ter­me­di­ate Peo­ple’s Court, and the court in­ves­ti­ga­tion and cross-ex­am­i­na­tion were com­pleted on Sun­day morn­ing. The trial is to re­sume on Mon­day.

Pros­e­cu­tors said on Sun­day that Bo did not turn him­self in, con­fess his crimes or in­form against oth­ers. Such com­pli­ance can re­sult in more le­nient pun­ish­ment.

Pros­e­cu­tors pre­sented ev­i­dence on the charge of abuse of power against Bo on Sun­day, show­ing that he or­dered the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of of­fi­cials in charge of han­dling his wife Bogu Kailai’s in­ten­tional homi­cide case.

She was sen­tenced to a sus­pended death sen­tence in Au­gust 2012 for mur­der­ing Bri­tish cit­i­zen Neil Hey­wood on Nov 13, 2011.

The pros­e­cu­tors’ ev­i­dence also showed that on Jan 28, 2012, then Chongqing po­lice chief Wang Li­jun re­ported the mur­der case to Bo, and Bo vi­o­lated or­ga­ni­za­tional pro­ce­dures to re­move Wang from his post five days later, which led to Wang flee­ing to the US Con­sulate Gen­eral in Chengdu on Feb 6, 2012.

Wang, 53, was sen­tenced to 15 years in prison in Septem­ber 2012 for bend­ing the law for self­ish ends, de­fec­tion, abuse of power and ac­cept­ing bribes.

Wang ap­peared in court on Satur­day and tes­ti­fied that Bo hit him in the face and smashed a cup in front of two other lo­cal of­fi­cials to threaten them into si­lence about the mur­der case. Bo said on Sun­day that smash­ing the cup did not nec­es­sar­ily show his op­po­si­tion to prob­ing the mur­der case. It only re­flected his lack of self-re­straint.

Bo in­sisted that Wang’s tes­ti­mony was fal­si­fied and that as a de­fec­tor “with ex­tremely bad char­ac­ter”, Wang is not qual­i­fied to tes­tify.

But the chief judge re­minded Bo that it was him as well as the pros­e­cu­tors who ap­plied for Wang’s pres­ence at the court. Bo said “thanks” to the judge af­ter­ward.

Bo’s de­fense lawyers ques­tioned the ob­jec­tiv­ity and au­then­tic­ity of Wang’s tes­ti­mony.

“The mo­ment that he (Wang) ap­peared in court, he showed grave hos­til­ity to­ward the de­fen­dant, say­ing that he was a vic­tim of the de­fen­dant rather than a wit­ness,” a de­fense lawyer said.

But pros­e­cu­tors said Wang’s tes­ti­mony was con­sis­tent with his pre­vi­ous state­ments, which could also be ver­i­fied by the tes­ti­mony of other wit­nesses and doc­u­men­tary ev­i­dence.

The pros­e­cu­tors also said that Bo al­lowed his wife, who was not a civil ser­vant, to take part in dis­cus­sions about how to han­dle Wang’s de­fec­tion.

Bo sanc­tioned his wife’s sug­ges­tion to ask a hos­pi­tal to fake a di­ag­no­sis that Wang had men­tal ill­ness, and the false in­for­ma­tion was re­leased to the pub­lic un­der Bo’s in­struc­tion, the pros­e­cu­tors said.

The pros­e­cu­tors pre­sented the tes­ti­mony of Huang Qi­fan, mayor of Chongqing, and three other of­fi­cials, in which the four wit­nesses said that Bo talked with them in late Jan­uary 2012 and sug­gested dis­miss­ing Wang with­out the ap­proval of the Min­istry of Pub­lic Se­cu­rity.

Ac­cord­ing to reg­u­la­tions, dis­miss­ing a provin­cial- level po­lice chief needs ap­proval from the min­istry.

Bo ad­mit­ted that he had made mis­takes in han­dling the is­sues, in­clud­ing dis­miss­ing Wang from his post, but he in­sisted that he was not in­volved in any abuse of power and the re­spon­si­bil­ity lay en­tirely with his wife and an of­fi­cial sur­named Wu.

Dur­ing the four-day trial, pros­e­cu­tors also ac­cused Bo of tak­ing bribes from busi­ness­men Tang Xiaolin, gen­eral man­ager of Dalian In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment, and Xu Ming, chair­man of Dalian Shide Group, and em­bez­zling 5 mil­lion yuan from a govern­ment pro­ject. Bo de­nied all the charges.

Through­out Sun­day’s ses­sion of the trial, Bo was “emo­tion­ally sta­ble and phys­i­cally fine”, said court spokesman Liu Yan­jie, at a news brief­ing on Sun­day.

Bo said in court that the pros­e­cu­tors have done a lot of work and that he re­spected this.

“I think that the Ji­nan In­ter­me­di­ate Peo­ple’s Court is very hu­mane, and the trial process is very civ­i­lized. I ap­pre­ci­ate all of you,” Bo said on Sun­day.

Chen Wei­dong, a pro­ce­dural law pro­fes­sor at Ren­min Univer­sity of China, said a half-day break on Sun­day from the pro­longed hear­ing could let the pros­e­cu­tors and the de­fense get re­freshed and be pre­pared for the up­com­ing court de­bate.

“The hear­ing has been go­ing on for nearly four days. It may be dif­fi­cult for the pub­lic to imag­ine the ten­sion and pres­sure that the judges, pros­e­cu­tors and de­fense face in court. I think they need a break,” he said.

Chen said court de­bate is usu­ally fiercer than cross-ex­am­i­na­tion and re­quires full ded­i­ca­tion from all the par­ties.

He sug­gested the pros­e­cu­tors and the de­fense make use of the break to take down the key points pro­posed by the other side and list im­por­tant ar­gu­ments they would use in Mon­day’s de­bate.

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