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Disgraced Chinese politician to stand trial

Bo Xilai, former Communist Party official, to face charges of taking bribes, embezzlement and abuse of power.

Last Modified: 18 Aug 2013 11:45
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Bo Xilai's wife Gu Kailai was jailed last year for the killing of a British businessman Neil Heywood [Reuters]

Disgraced politician Bo Xilai, whose downfall heralded China's biggest political scandal for decades, is set to stand trial for bribery, corruption and abuse of power.

Sunday's announcement set the Communist Party on course to wrap up a scandal that Chinese leaders who took power last year want to put behind them as they try to establish their authority.

The Intermediate People's Court in the eastern city of Jinan said Bo will stand trial there on Thursday.

"The open trial will start at 8:30am (00:30 GMT) on August 22," Xinhua said on Sunday.

It gave no further details.

The scandal surrounding Bo emerged last year, ahead of a leadership transition in which he had been considered a candidate for China's most powerful body, the Politburo Standing Committee.

But his career ended amid allegations that his wife - later convicted of murder - was involved in the death of a British businessman and that he had sought to block the police investigation.

Bo was previously considered a rising Communist Party star

Bo, a former party leader for the major city of Chongqing, was indicted last month on the charges.

Determining how to handle Bo's trial would require tough negotiations among the political elite, which can effectively dictate judicial proceedings, analysts say.

President Xi Jinping took office in March vowing to root out corrupt officials ranging from high-ranking "tigers" to low-level "flies", and warning that the problem could destroy the ruling Communist Party.

The current affairs magazine Caijing last month said the 25-million-yuan ($4.1m) corruption charges against Bo stem from his time running the smaller city of Dalian in the 1990s, not Chongqing. It did not cite a source.

From Dalian - a city of seven million people - Bo went on to run the national ministry of commerce and then Chongqing metropolis with a population of 30 million.

Analysts say that given the length of Bo's career and the high positions he reached, it seemed implausible corruption would only affect Bo's earlier and less-powerful posts.

The abuse of power allegation relates to his attempt last year to stop his Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun investigating the role of Bo's wife Gu Kailai in the death of British businessman Neil Heywood, Caijing said.

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