Disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai told a court on Saturday that his wife stole government funds without his involvement and revealed how the couple became estranged after he was unfaithful, offering a glimpse at his corruption trial into the unravelling of one of China’s elite families.
Bo also mocked as implausible a former city official’s testimony that Bo had facilitated the embezzlement of five million yuan (800-thousand US dollars) with a phone call to his wife, while expressing remorse that he had not acted to stop the misconduct.
Later on Saturday Jinan Intermediate Court spokesman Liu Yanjie said the court had “made investigations about charges against Bo Xilai of abuse of power.”
“Bo Xilai made presentations to court about charges on him, he answered questions from prosecutors and the defence,” he said.
Yanjie said the court had subpoenaed Wang Lijun, Bo Xilai’s former police chief, to appear as witness “as requested by both prosecutors and defendant”.
The ruling Communist Party is using the trial against Bo, a former Politburo member and party leader of the megacity of Chongqing, to cap a messy political scandal unleashed by suspicions that his wife killed a British businessman.
The scandal led to Bo’s political ouster, cemented by criminal charges of interfering with a murder investigation and netting 4.3 million US dollars through corruption.
Courts in China are controlled by the Communist Party, so a conviction is expected, but Bo has mounted an unexpectedly spirited defence.
The court’s release of trial proceedings are in sharp contrast with the August 2012 conviction of Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, in the murder of a British businessman, when she pleaded guilty in daylong proceedings and scant details were released.
Bo’s trial had been expected to be similarly swift, but observers say giving him a chance to defend himself helps lend a veneer of legitimacy to what is widely seen as a political show trial.
The trial has focused attention on Bo’s alleged economic and official misdeeds and avoided discussing the threat he posed to China’s leadership in his pursuit of a seat in China’s apex of power ahead of last year’s leadership transition.
Authorities remained on high alert for any unrest that might be triggered by the trial, closely guarding a security perimeter that expanded several miles around the court on Saturday, with main roads in the vicinity sealed and many shops and restaurants shut.
Bo was believed to be carried out of Jinan Intermediate Court by a motorcade on Saturday evening, after court hearings which lasted about 7 hours.
The trial of Bo will continue for a fourth day on Sunday.
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