China's once-powerful politician Bo Xilai has been indicted for bribery, corruption and abuse of power, according to state media.

The former party chief of the southwestern city of Chongqing has not been seen in public for more than a year since the controversy surrounding him was exposed, triggering one of China's biggest political scandals in decades.

Al Jazeera's Craig Leeson reports from Hong Kong

The 63-year-old's wife, Gu Kailai, and his former police chief, Wang Lijun, have both been jailed over the scandal stemming from the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.

The government in September last year accused Bo of corruption and of bending the law to hush up that murder.

The indictment paper was delivered to a court in Jinan in the eastern province of Shandong, state news agency Xinhua said, citing prosecutors. Bo "took the advantage of his position to seek profits for others and  accepted an 'extremely large amount' of money and properties," it said, quoting the indictment.

The downfall of Bo, once one of 25 members of the Politburo of China's ruling Communist Party, exposed corruption allegations and deep divisions at the highest levels of government.

The scandal emerged last year when Bo's police chief and right-hand man Wang fled to a US consulate, reportedly seeking asylum.

Poisonous relationship

It came ahead of a once-a-decade leadership transition last November, in which Bo had been considered a candidate for the Politburo Standing Committee, which currently has seven members and is China's most powerful body.

Bo's wife was given a suspended death sentence last August for fatally poisoning businessman and family friend Neil Heywood. The penalty is normally commuted to a life sentence in China.

Wang was sentenced to 15 years in prison in September for defection and other crimes. Official media said last year Bo had "borne major responsibility" for the murder of Heywood, had taken "massive" bribes and had indulged in inappropriate sexual relations with "multiple women".

Bo has appointed two lawyers for the trial, both of whom are members of a law firm which has close ties to the ruling party.

News of the trial comes at a time when the party is trying to show it is cracking down on corruption and government waste.

The trial could begin as early as this week, according to an inside source speaking to Reuters news agency on condition of anonymity. 

Source: Agencies