Disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai told a court on Saturday that he made mistakes that prompted his top aide’s embarrassing US defection bid, but denied criminal responsibility for the incident that triggered the country’s messiest political scandal in decades.
Proceedings centred on events around the time when Bo’s former top aide, Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun, fled to a US consulate in the neighbouring city of Chengdu in February 2012, fearing for his safety after he told Bo that the politician’s wife had killed a British associate.
Bo told the court that he reacted angrily to the report of the murder, slapping the police chief in the face and smashing a cup in fury because he thought Wang was framing his wife, Gu Kailai, for the crime.
Bo denied trying to cover up the murder.
“I thought he was being duplicitous. I have zero tolerance for duplicity,” he told the Jinan Intermediate People’s Court.
In a rare show of contrition on the third day of his trial for corruption and abuse of power, Bo admitted he “made errors and was at fault. It hurt the reputation of the party and the country, and I’m very ashamed”.
“But whether it was a crime or not is a separate question,” he stressed.
In his own testimony, Wang said the violent confrontation with Bo, as well as the disappearance of his subordinates who were investigating the murder, spurred him to flee to American officials for safety.
He also said Bo did not slap him as much as punch him hard, causing his mouth to bleed.
“It was dangerous at the time,” Wang told the court, added he was “subject to violence, and my staff working closely with me and those working on the case disappeared”.
Wang said he believed Bo had ordered an investigation into the police officers involved in the murder case to try to shield his wife.
The ruling Communist Party is using the trial against Bo to cap a major political scandal unleashed last year when Wang fled to the US consulate bearing revelations that Bo’s wife killed a British businessman.
That scandal led to Bo’s removal as Politburo member and party leader of the southern megacity of Chongqing, making him the most senior leader to fall from power in years.
His purge is being cemented by criminal charges of abusing his power by interfering in the murder investigation and trying to hide the defection, as well as netting 4.3 (M) million US dollars through corruption.
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