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Central & South Asia
Former Chinese police chief stands trial
Trial of Wang Lijun at heart of China's biggest scandal, key player in fall of politician Bo Xilai, has begun in secret.
Last Modified: 18 Sep 2012 04:30
Wang Lijun is on trial on charges including defection, abuse of power, bribery and bending the law [File: Reuters]

An ex-police chief whose flight to a US consulate triggered the biggest scandal to rock China's Communist party in
years stands trial for a second day, after the hearing began in secret.

Wang Lijun, former right-hand man of disgraced politician Bo Xilai, appeared in a court in the southwestern city of Chengdu, on Tuesday, on charges including defection, abuse of power, bribery and bending the law for selfish ends.

Media and the public were barred from the first day of Wang's trial on Monday but defence lawyer Wang Yuncai told the AFP news agency that the second session would be "open".

Local officials told AFP that the trial is likely to come to an end on Tuesday, with a verdict announced in the evening.

One key issue is whether the official account of the trial will mention allegations that Wang carried out extensive phone tapping of senior officials who visited Chongqing, even recording a conversation involving President Hu Jintao.

"Something like this certainly could not have happened without Wang's boss, i.e. Bo, authorising or knowing," Steve Tsang, professor of contemporary Chinese studies at the University of Nottingham, said in emailed comments.

"If there is no mention of Bo it would imply that the leadership still cannot agree on what to do with him."

Analysts said that because of the case's political sensitivity it would be carefully stage-managed by party officials, with Wang almost guaranteed to admit guilt.

"The verdict will relate to a political agreement amongst top Chinese leaders to limit the fallout from the Bo Xilai case," City University of Hong Kong political analyst Joseph Cheng told AFP.

"It's a political arrangement, rather than an independent judicial trial."

Though the court may only announce Wang's sentence days or weeks after the trial.

Fate of Bo

Wang fled to the US consulate in Chengdu in February, setting in motion a political crisis that exposed deep divisions within the upper echelons of Chinese politics ahead of a generational transfer of power.

The scandal led to the sacking of Bo, one of China's most high-profile political figures, and the conviction of his wife Gu Kailai for the murder of a British businessman.

Wang, 52, was drafted in by Bo, then the top Communist party official in the sprawling metropolis of Chongqing, to mastermind a crackdown on the local mafia, which Bo hoped would propel him into the top ranks of Chinese politics.

But relations between Bo and Wang turned sour early this year, months after British businessman Neil Heywood, a close associate of Bo's family, was found dead in a Chongqing hotel room.

Wang fled to the US consulate after an apparent dispute with the politician, reportedly telling officials that Bo's wife had murdered Heywood.

Gu was convicted of Heywood's murder by a Chinese court last month and given a suspended death sentence, normally commuted to life imprisonment, after a short trial that was thought to be subject to heavy political interference.

The proceedings will be closely watched for clues about the fate of Bo, who has not been seen in public for months and is currently believed to be under house arrest.

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