China: Bo Xilai Sentenced to Life in Prison
Former Communist Party of China (CPC) Secretary Bo Xilai was sentenced to life in prison on Sunday. Bo, former chief of the bustling municipality of Chongqing, was convicted on charges of taking bribes, embezzlement, and abuse of power.
The five-day trial, which Human Rights Watch described as "a political trial, one that failed to provide due process to Bo, failed to provide justice to his victims, and failed to provide the truth about his abuses of power to the Chinese public," was full of spectacle.
The 64-year-old politician vehemently and passionately defended himself. According to NPR, "Outside the courthouse, Bo's supporters heatedly defended him. Inside the courtroom, Bo rejected every allegation. He assailed the credibility of every witness against him, including his wife."
Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, was convicted in 2012 of murdering British businessman Neil Heywood after Heywood allegedly demanded money from Gu and threatened her son. Bo was expelled from the party and removed from office after a failed attempt to cover up the scandal.
In the trial Bo lashed out at his wife, calling her "insane" and alleging an affair between her and former Chonqing Chief of Police Wang Lijun, the man who focused attention on Heywood's murder when he met with American officials at the US Consulate in Chengdu.
Analysts initially expected Bo to receive a sentence of 15 to 20 years. The life sentence is believed to be in response to his steadfast denial of wrongdoing and aggressive defense, reports The Guardian.
Bo was mayor of Dalian, governor of the Liaoning province, and minister of commerce before he took the top spot in Chongqing. He was known for a high profile crackdown on organized crime, assisted by Wang, his former Public Security Bureau head.
The charismatic politician has retained significant support throughout his legal ordeals. Supporters believe that he was targeted by political opponents who saw him as a threat, including Chinese president Xi Jinping.
Bo, the son of communist revolutionary Bo Yibo, was one of China's most influential and popular rising politicians before his downfall. "In his mind, his family was one of the founders of this system," said Chinese scholar and historian Zhang Lifan. "So he has no use for rules."