The Chongqing Communist Party’s disciplinary commission has endorsed penalties for dozens of city officials linked to a sex and corruption scandal.
Xinhua reported yesterday that 21 officials, including Lei Zhengfu, former party chief of Beibei district, have been sentenced.
Lei, filmed having sex with a woman hired by developers seeking favours in bids for construction projects, will be dismissed from the party.
The sex scandal erupted in November when whistle-blower Zhu Ruifeng uploaded screenshots from video footage showing Lei, 57, having sex with an 18-year-old woman.
Lei was fired within days of the footage going viral online, and at least 10 more government officials and executives from state-owned companies have been dismissed for appearing in other secretly filmed sex videos.
“The long-awaited decision shows the government in Chongqing was forced to make the decision by the weight of public opinion,” Zhu said. “The government was papering over the problems and did not want to release information immediately and transparently.”
Xinhua said the case of another official implicated in the sex tape scandal, Nanan district party secretary Xia Zeliang, would be handled separately.
Xia allegedly provided the poison that Gu Kailai , the wife of former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai , used to murder British businessman Neil Heywood in November 2011 and offered her other assistance. Bo allegedly helped cover up the sex scandal.
Xinhua said another district-level official, Han Shuming, was being investigated for suspected economic crimes.
A further 18 unnamed officials would receive different party punishments, including serious warnings.
Mainland media reported on Friday that the woman who appeared in Lei’s sex tape, Zhao Hongxia , had been arrested and charged with extortion.
The newly installed leadership has repeatedly pledged to tackle corruption. But whistle-blower Zhu said it was still difficult for the public to supervise officials.
A television show about his work that was supposed to air in Shanghai recently was pulled after national security authorities issued a gag order.
China’s disgraced former senior politician, Bo Xilai, will go on trial next week, a Beijing-backed Hong Kong newspaper said on Friday, in what would be the final act of a drama that has shaken the ruling Communist Party.
Bo, once a contender for top leadership in the world’s second-largest economy, was ousted in China’s biggest political scandal in two decades last year following his wife’s murder of a British businessman, Neil Heywood.
The mainland China-run Ta Kung Pao newspaper said on its website that Bo’s trial would start on Monday in the southern city of Guiyang and last three days. It cited “well-informed Beijing sources”, but gave no details.
One of Bo’s lawyers, Li Guifang, declined to comment when reached by telephone. A court official in Guiyang who gave his family name as Li said he had not heard anything about the case.
“The case has not yet even been put forward for prosecution,” he added.
A source with direct knowledge of the case told Reuters he “had not heard” that the trial would begin next week.
Bo, a former commerce minister, turned the sprawling, haze-covered southwestern municipality of Chongqing into a showcase for his mix of populist policies and bold spending plans that won support from leftists yearning for a charismatic leader.
Bo, 63, was widely seen as pursuing a powerful spot on the party’s elite inner core before his career unraveled after his former police chief, Wang Lijun, fled to a U.S. consulate for more than 24 hours in February and alleged that Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, had murdered Heywood with poison.
Both Wang and Gu have since been jailed and Bo expelled from the party, accused of corruption and of bending the law to hush up the killing.
The Telegraph’s Malcolm Moore reports from Beijing: “Neil Heywood, the British businessman murdered in China, regularly provided information on Bo Xilai, the powerful politician, to MI6 before he was killed, a new report has claimed.
“The revelation in the Wall Street Journal(£) raises new questions about the motives for Mr Heywood’s killing, and about the reaction to his death by the British authorities, who delayed for several months before asking for an investigation.
“According to unnamed sources, the 41-year-old businessman was not an MI6 officer, was not specifically tasked, and was not paid.
“William Hague, the Foreign secretary, has stated that Mr Heywood was ‘not an employee of the British government in any capacity’.
“But, according to the report, he was a ‘wilful and knowing informant’, regularly meeting with a man he knew to be a spy, at least once also in the company of a member of the House of Lords.
“His MI6 contact once described him as ‘useful’ to a former colleague, according to the WSJ, adding: ‘A little goes a long way’.
“Mr Heywood was perfectly placed to be of use to MI6. He had been a member of Mr Bo’s inner circle for many years as the Chinese politician rose up through the Communist party.
“He helped the family with all sorts of requests, especially in their dealings in the UK. One friend described him as a ‘sort of butler’, another as a ‘bag man’.”
For details, please visit The Telegraph’s website at:
Reuters reports from Beijing: “A lawyer for disgraced former top Chinese politician Bo Xilai, who has been employed by the family to represent him, said on Thursday he was unable to say whether the government would allow him to represent Bo when the case comes to trial.”
“The government last month accused Bo of corruption and of bending the law to hush up Heywood’s murder. Before Bo is formally charged and tried, investigators must complete an inquiry and indict him.
“Bo’s mother-in-law, Fan Chengxiu, has retained Li Xiaolin, who was also part of Gu’s legal team, to represent him.
“But Li said he was unsure if the authorities would allow this. During Gu’s trial, she had to use government-appointed lawyers.
“‘I still can’t say whether I’ll be able to get involved in this case. We will try our hardest to take it,’ Li told Reuters in a brief telephone interview.
“Li said he did not know where Bo was and added that he had not seen him, as he had only just been employed by Fan.
“‘There are many things that are impossible to know. I know about as much as you do,’ Li said.
“He declined to speculate on when a trial may happen.
“‘How can I estimate this? It’s all guesswork,’ Li said.”
For details, please visit Reuters website at:
New York Times carries Edward Wong and David Barboza’s article published on October 6, 2012 giving inside story about Bo Xilai’s former wife Li Danyu, her enmity against Bo’s second wife Gu Kailai, the suspected poisoning of Gu by Bo and Li’s son Li Wangzhi, also known as Brendan Li, etc.
The article begins by saying, “Mr. Bo, the city’s Communist Party chief, pointed to a stack of papers and said he had forensic reports that proved the existence of a continuing plot to poison his second wife, Gu Kailai. Then he asked the other man to step into the yard and turn off his cellphone. The person suspected of masterminding the scheme, Mr. Bo said, was his son from his first marriage, Li Wangzhi, also known as Brendan Li, a graduate of Columbia University who was working in finance in Beijing.
“‘Could this be true?’ Mr. Bo asked. When the brother-in-law insisted the fears were outlandish, Mr. Bo seemed relieved.
“The story, recounted in two recent interviews with Mr. Bo’s estranged first wife, Li Danyu, 62, deepens the Shakespearean dimension of a scandal that has gripped this nation and disrupted the party’s once-a-decade leadership transition.”
For details, please visit New York Times website at:
Ming Pao says that there was internal circular giving more details of Bo’s case that Bo’s wife Gu Kailai has taken bribes worth more than 20 million yuan (US$3.14 million) while Bo himself has directly taken bribes worth approximately 6 million yuan (US$942,000).
Source who has access to the circular revealed to Ming Pao that the circular did not mention whether Bo received through his wife the bribes taken by his wife. A list of bribers is given in the circular for the bribes taken by Bo directly including businessmen Xu Ming and Yu Junshi who are close to Bo. However, Bo’s son Bo Guagua has not been mentioned throughout the circular.
The circular also pointed out Bo’s offence in transferring Wang Lijun’s post and conducting illegal investigation of those close to Wang when Wang informed Bo of his suspicion that Bo’s wife murdered Neil Heywood. Those have already been covered by Xinhua’s report.
However, it is unknown whether Bo is able to prove that he was not aware of his wife’s taking bribes.
Ming Pao says that according to Lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan, if Bo is only guilty of taking bribes of 6 million yuan, he will not get the death penalty. However, if he had been aware of his wife’s offence of taking 20 million yuan of bribes or has taken the bribes through his wife, Bo may be executed.
I think it is quite interesting that at Gu Kailai’s trial not long ago, Gu’s crime of taking huge bribes was not mentioned at all though it was a heinous crime punishable by death penalty.
Certainly, the prosecutors knew Bo’s wife’s crime of taking the huge bribes at that time, but they just turn a blind eye to it.
Shame that they even claimed that the trial was the victory of their rule of law. How ridiculous!
For 20 years, Bo was praised and promoted for his honesty and good performance, but upon investigation he is found to have committed lots of crimes including taking bribes, abusing power, womanizing, etc. in the 20 years. I wonder how many officials in China will be found honest when they have all gone through careful investigation.
The struggle against corruption can never succeed if there is no independent judiciary, true rule of law or democratic supervision of officials by the people.
SCMP says in its report titled “Beijing in scramble to put Bo Xilai on trial ahead of leadership transition”, “Bo Xilai is likely to stand trial before the start of the leadership succession next month, as Beijing scrambles to limit the fallout from his scandalous downfall, analysts say.”
Indeed, details revealed in the trial of Bo will certainly harm the Party’s image.
However, the party is now in fact in a dilemma. The failure to mention Bo’s wife’s crime of taking bribes or to mention Bo’s name in Wang Lijun’s case proved that the party had tried to avoid revealing Bo’s crimes to protect its image.
However, the factions who have won the power struggle decided later that if the conservatives have not been hit hard this time, they may come back later; therefore, Bo must be punished as hard as possible without mercy.
That has made the trials that have been claimed to prove the satisfactory rule of law, a true mess. Bo’s wife’s prosecutors tried to cover up her heinous crime of taking over 20 million yuan of bribes, which they of course knew after prolonged investigation. Bo, however, is now accused of his wife’s crime soon afterwards.
The principal of the crime has not been prosecuted for it while her accomplice shall be mainly liable for it. What rule of law! What justice!
SCMP says, “Beijing-based historian Zhang Lifan and He Weifang, a law professor at PekingUniversity, said a hasty trial would deal another blow to the party’s crumbling credibility.”
However, faced with the dilemma, the victorious factions believe a thorough victory over conservatives is much more important for China’s reform in the future. They would rather suffer the deterioration of the party’s credibility.
SCMP says: “The son of fallen Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai has released a statement defending his father who was expelled by the Politburo from the party on Friday, said the Wall Street Journal.
“‘Personally, it is hard for me to believe the allegations that were announced against my father, because they contradict everything I have come to know about him throughout my life,’ said the statement by” Bo’s son Bo Guagua.
“‘Although the policies my father enacted are open to debate, the father I know is upright in his beliefs and devoted to duty. He has always taught me to be my own person and to have concern for causes greater than ourselves. I have tried to follow his advice. At this point, I expect the legal process to follow its normal course, and I will await the result,’ said the statement posted on Tumblr. Bo Guagua confirmed with the he had written the statement.”
For details, please visit SCMP website at:
Associated Press’ Christopher Bodeen reports from Beijing: “With disgraced politician Bo Xilai expelled from the party, his career effectively ended with a slew of criminal charges that are certain to result in convictions, China’s ruling communists can finally focus on the crucial task of ensuring a smooth transition to a new generation of leaders.
“On Friday, the party’s decision-making Politburo finally took long-awaited action on the scandal that had loomed over Chinese politics for more than half a year, leveling criminal charges against Bo that range from corruption to sexual affairs to abetting the cover-up of a murder by his wife. At the same time, the 25-member Politburo also made the long overdue announcement of the opening of the party congress, now scheduled for Nov. 8, when President Hu Jintao will step down as party boss and Vice President Xi Jinping will succeed him.
“The twin pronouncements are connected: Getting Bo out of the way was seen as crucial to healing rifts in the party and allowing Xi and a new leadership to come to power without the overhang of a messy scandal.”
For details please visit Associated Press website at:
Daily Beast says in its report titled “Communist Party Expels Bo Xilai, Who Now Faces Trial”, “Bo Xilai, the disgraced politician whose soaring rise to power collapsed amid an epic scandal of corruption and murder, has been expelled from the Chinese Communist Party and will face criminal prosecution, China’s state media announced Friday.
“The expulsion and impending trial of Bo, 63, comes just weeks before the Nov. 8 power transition by the Communist Party.
“A former Commerce minister and party chief of the southwestern metropolis of Chongqing, Bo was purged in March and suspended from China’s ruling Politburo a month later after his police chief fled to a U.S. consulate with evidence that Bo’s wife had murdered a British businessman using poison. That defection sparked a massive political crisis the party has desperately wanted to resolve before the leadership transition.
“Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, was found guilty for her role in the killing in August. Earlier this month, the police chief, Wang Lijun, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for his involvement in the murder cover-up and attempting to defect to the U.S.
“According the official Xinhua News Agency, the Politburo accused Bo of abusing power, taking bribes, and bearing ‘a major responsibility’ for the scandal, which has upset the party’s secret and well-organized transition plans.”
For details of the report, please visit Daily Beast website at:
SCMP reports: “A high-profile forensic expert with the mainland’s top prosecutorial body has publicly challenged the official account of the cause of death of British businessman Neil Heywood, whose murder triggered the country’s biggest political scandal in two decades.
“Wang Xuemei, a forensic medical expert with the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, wrote on her blog on Wednesday that she questioned whether Heywood had been poisoned by cyanide, as announced after the trial of Gu Kailai, who was given a suspended death sentence in August for his murder. Gu is the wife of disgraced former Chongqing Communist Party boss Bo Xilai .”
“‘I feel very pained, upset and scared that our court believed the theory [Heywood] was poisoned with cyanide,’ she wrote, arguing that if Heywood had indeed been killed by cyanide, the forensic experts sent to the scene would have immediately noticed obvious symptoms such as discolouration of the corpse or an unusual bright red colour of heart blood samples, making it impossible for four subordinates of Wang Lijun, Chongqing’s then police chief, to disguise it as death caused by excessive drinking.”
For details of SCMP report, please visit its website at: