Sunday, 22 September 2013

The End of Bo's Chapter?

Bo Xilai stands before the judge to hear the verdict and sentence
The guilty verdict for former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai was not unexpected -- but the life sentence took China watchers off guard.

This morning at 10am the presiding judge Wang Xuguang read out the verdict that Bo was guilty and sentenced to life in prison. He was also stripped of his political rights, thus effectively eliminating any chances of a come back.

The court found him guilty of embezzlement, bribery and abuse of power. It rejected his defense that his confession to crimes were extracted through illegal means such as torture and interrogation.

His argument that his wife Gu Kailai's testimony was inadmissible due to mental illness was rejected, as well as his testifying that he did not abuse his power to cover up Gu's murder of Briton Neil Heywood.

Some believe Bo's feisty performance in court coupled with his insistence on pleading not guilty resulted in his heavy sentence. He plans to appeal, but following previous cases, appeals do not necessarily result in a lighter sentence.

The only small victory Bo had was that prosecution could not prove bribes of 1.34 million yuan, that were apparently flight tickets for Bo's son Guagua by businessman Xu Ming.

Bo will now spend his days in Qincheng Prison in Beijing, where his fellow inmates include his former police chief Wang Lijun, and disgraced railways minister Liu Zhijun. Gu is serving her suspended death sentence (life in prison) at Yancheng Prison in Hebei province, north of Beijing.

While Bo won't have to wear a prison uniform, he will have a diet of milk for breakfast; a soup and two dishes for lunch and dinner, and live in a 20 square metre (about 200 square feet) cell with an individual toilet.

The court ordered that Bo's financial assets be seized -- well the ones in China, which means his son Guagua won't be coming back home anytime soon and will probably live the rest of his life in exile. It's a strange predicament having your parents, who were so powerful, now in prison for the rest of their lives. Will he and his older half brother Li Wangzhi make amends?

That is probably the next chapter in the Bo dynasty...

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