(APTN) The trial resumed on Friday for disgraced Chinese politicianBo Xilai a day after he fiercely denied taking 3.5 million US dollars in bribes from businessmen and cross-examined one of them with a lawyer’s precision.
His unexpectedly spirited defence at the proceedings aimed at capping the country’s biggest scandal in decades appeared to be a last-ditch effort to repair his carefully cultivated reputation as a man of the people.
Bo is accused of corruption and involvement in an attempted cover-up of his wife’s murder of a British businessman.
Prosecutors on Thursday ended months of suspense about the details of his charges, rolling out accusations that featured a villa in France, a hot-air balloon project and a football club and illustrated how colourful corruption can be in China.
Friday’s session, in Jinan, is expected to deal with the remaining two charges of embezzlement of government funds and abuse of office.
The case is stirring a lot of interest amongst the Chinese public.
“How terrible it would be if he (Bo Xilai) is not punished? We have too many corrupt officials in this country, they take money from the people and then run away. This is very dangerous,” said Yu Xiuzhu, a Jinan resident.
“In the old days, we didn’t have this many corrupt officials.”
Zhang Lanying, a tourist from Tianjin, added: “Bo Xilai could be the most corrupt high-ranking official in the country. The party has said they would crackdown on both ‘tigers’ and ‘mosquitos’ of corruption.
“As a citizen, we would like to see how the party is going to crackdown on such a big ‘tiger’ like him. If they don’t crackdown on big ‘tigers’ properly, how could they crack down on the ‘mosquitos?’”
Once the powerful party boss in the megacity of Chongqing, the charismatic Bo fell into disgrace early last year following revelations that his wife had killed a British businessman, and that he had allegedly attempted to cover it up.
The opening day of the trial on Thursday marked the first time he was seen in public in 18 months, since shortly after the scandal emerged.
The trial is widely presumed to have a predetermined outcome: conviction.
But in an unusual display of openness for a major political trial in China, court officials released frequent micro-blog updates on the testimony, suggesting ruling Communist Party officials are confident of minimising damage from a scandal that exposed a murder and machinations among China’s elite.
Prosecutors said Bo used his wife, Gu Kailai, and his son, BoGuagua, as intermediaries in accepting 3.5 million US dollars in the northeast city of Dalian, where Bo Xilai once held key posts.
They also alleged that Bo instructed an underling to keep quiet an 800,000 US dollar payment to the city, and that Bodiverted the money into personal funds with the help of his wife, according to updates on the micro-blog site Sina Weibo posted by the Jinan Intermediate People’s Court.
In response, Bo said he had been pressured into falsely confessing to party investigators that he had taken payments from a general manager of a company owned by the Dalian government, although he also said the investigators had treated him well.
Prosecutors also said Bo helped a Dalian businessman, Xu Ming, in efforts to buy a football club and obtain land for a hot-air balloon project without proper procedures.
They said Xu helped Bo’s family finance the purchase of a villa in Nice, France, and that Xu bought a Segway, an electric stand-up scooter, for Bo’s son.
Bo denied the accusations and said the two were not even friends.
Despite Bo’s feisty defence, a verdict of guilt against him is all but assured because the outcome of trials involving high-profile politicians in China are usually decided in backroom negotiations by politicians and handed down by the court.