Bo Xilai blames wife on third day of trial

Prosecution continues case against former Chinese politician charged with embezzlement and abuse of power.

Last Modified: 24 Aug 2013 14:45
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Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, was convicted last year of murdering the British businessman, Neil Heywood [AFP]

The third day of the trial of disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai is now under way.

Proceedings on Saturday will see the prosecution continue its case against Bo, who is accused of embezzlement and abuse of power.

Al Jazeera's Harry Fawcett, reporting from outside the court in Jinan, said the third day was expected to concentrate more on the embezzlement charges, in which Bo is accused of taking $800,000 from a government building project.

Bo accepted that the funds had been able to be embezzled as he had not been alert enough.

China expert Gordon Chang on the impact of the trial

Bo said that Wang Zhenggang, former ally of Bo's who was director of the urban and rural planning bureau in Dalian, where Bo once served as mayor, told him in 2002 that he suggested to Bo the money be used by Bo's wife and son, who was studying overseas.

"I refused him. Afterwards, Wang Zhenggang came and found me again, told me why the money was difficult to deal with, and said that if I were busy he could talk to Gu Kailai about it," Bo said, according to his testimony.

Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, was given a suspended death sentence, last year after being found guilty of murdering British businessman Neil Heywood.

Bo said he agreed to Wang speaking to Gu about the money because he "lacked alertness", which is how the money ended up going to her.

"After Gu and Wang had their discussions, I did not go and investigate, I let it slide. It was more than a decade ago, I don't really remember the details," Bo said.

"I am deeply ashamed and regretful about this incident," Bo said, highlighting that he took "some responsibility" for the embezzlement.

Spirited defence

Our correspondent said Bo continued his aggressive defence techniques that have been seen throughout the trial, cross-examining on Saturday the key witness, a former city official who testified that he had helped the disgraced politician embezzle the government funds.

The official said Bo made a call to his wife in front of him and explicitly said he was going to funnel the money to their family, an account Bo called implausible.

"Is this in line with the way an embezzler would think?" Bo said of the account of the alleged event that took place 13 years ago in Dalian, where he was party chief. "Would I say something this sensitive on the phone?"

"There are competing theories about this very public trial," our correspondent said.

"Some think it serves the communist party to allow his defence to be heard and further discredited if he is found guilty, others say he has caught them on the hop by being so outspoken."

During Friday's court appearance Bo described his wife as "insane", after prosecutors showed her videotaped testimony implicating him in a bribery scandal.

The case against Bo, a former Politburo member and party leader of Chongqing, is aimed at concluding a messy political scandal that began with initial suspicions that his wife killed a British businessman.

That led to his political ousting, cemented by criminal charges of interfering with the murder investigation and netting $4.3m through corruption.

The trial, taking place at the Jinan Intermediate People's Court, is widely believed to have a conviction as its predetermined outcome, but Bo has launched an unexpectedly spirited defence.

Trials involving high-profile politicians in China are usually decided in backroom negotiations by politicians and handed down by the court.

Bo Xilai faces charges of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power during his time in office [AFP]

Details of the trial are being filtered through transcripts provided by the court on micro-blog sites, giving a rare but possibly incomplete window into proceedings that the public and foreign media have been barred from attending.

That unusual display of openness for a major political trial in China suggests the ruling Communist Party officials are confident of minimising damage from a scandal that exposed a murder and machinations among China's elite.

Outside the courthouse, security has been tight, with main roads and a flyover sealed off to traffic and crowds kept far away.


Al Jazeera and agencies
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