Thursday, 22 August 2013

Bo's First Day of Reckoning

After 18 months incommunicado, Bo Xilai looks shorter than the guards...
We were eagerly watching for news coming out in the form of tweets from the Jinan courtroom where Bo Xilai is standing on trial for corruption and abuse of power.

Foreign media were not allowed in, but interestingly the Jinan Intermediate Court microblogged the event.

In one of the first pictures of Bo, he was dressed in a white shirt and black trousers, looking a bit sullen and slumped, standing beside two guards. The Chinese press were all a twitter about Bo being shorter than the two men. They probably wanted to give the appearance Bo was smaller, but the guards' hats really made them taller.

But we really like Ai Weiwei's take on the proceedings:

We're sure Ai Weiwei would have loved to be in the room...
Others observed the lack of beard on Bo's face as there were reports earlier he had grown facial hair and also that he was able to dye his hair while being detained.

There were other reports that there was a rehearsal of the trial held yesterday. But was today going as scripted?

Prosecution claimed Bo received 21.8 million yuan ($3.6 million) in bribes while mayor of Dalian, governor of Liaoning province and national minister of commerce, and that he embezzled an additional 5 million yuan in public funds.

They alleged he received the bribes through his wife Gu Kailai and his son Bo Guagua -- the first time his son was mentioned -- though Bo denied receiving more than 1 million yuan in bribes from Tang Xiaolin, saying he had "confessed against his will" when he was being interrogated by the Party's internal disciplinary body. "I was willing to accept my legal responsibilities," he said. "But I was not at all aware about the details of the matter. My mind was blank at the time."

Then he began denouncing Tang as a "rabid dog" and described Tang's testimony as "the ugly performance of a person selling his soul". The judge had to warn Bo to mind his language.

Bo also interrogated Xu Ming, the other businessman who allegedly gave money to Gu and Bo Guagua. Xu's answers demonstrated he did not give money to Bo directly, nor did he directly ask for favours.

Xu also claimed that in 2001 he paid Bo Guagua's credit card bill of £30,000 -- but he was only 13 years old at the time...

Bo also claimed to not know much about the family's finances, claiming Gu looked after this and so he had no idea how much his son's tuition fees were, or how much trips cost and such.

And thus ended the first day.

Bo refused to go down without a fight, and it sounds like he did a pretty good job of defending himself.

However, his guilt is a foregone conclusion -- how guilty remains to be seen...

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