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.
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:
At 8.56pm Xinhua’s english.news.cn gave a detailed account of Wang Lijun’s case, which revealed Bo Xilai’s role in Gu Kailai and Wang Lijun’s cases
Xinhua says, “Relevant testimonies from witnesses showed that on Jan. 28, Wang Lijun reported to the then leading official of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Chongqing Committee that Bogu Kailai was highly suspected in the Nov. 15, 2011 Case. On the morning of Jan. 29, Wang Lijun was angrily rebuked and slapped in the face by the official.”
The official who slapped Wang was obviously Bo Xilai who was then leading official of the Chongqing Party Committee.
In addition Xinhua says, “On Feb. 2, 2012, Wang Lijun’s work division as Chongqing’s vice mayor was adjusted and he no longer served concurrently as chief of the municipality’s Public Security Bureau.
“Moreover, in early February, three staff members working closely with Wang were put under illegal investigation. Wang felt he was in danger, giving rise to his idea to defect.”
Obviously Wang’s removal from chief of Chongqing Security Bureau and the illegal investigation of Wang’s close staff members were done at Bo Xilai’s instructions.
Even if Bo Xilai cannot be prosecuted for that, there are adequate grounds for disciplinary sanction within the Party.
Bo’s even greater crime was probably that he told Wang to spy on top Party leaders.
Xinhua says, “According to the indictment, Wang, then chief of Chongqing’s Public Security Bureau, violated the country’s laws and regulations by using technical reconnaissance measures on a number of people since 2010, either without the approval of authorities or by forging approval documents.”
We don’t know whom Wang spied “by using technical reconnaissance measures” as the hearing on that part of Wang’s case was carried out in secret, but the probability is quite great that Wang spied on top Party leaders and Bo gave Wang instructions to do so though there has not been adequate evidence to prosecute Bo.
Obviously, Bo will be punished for that within the Party.
We can be certain that if no powerful elder shields Bo, Bo is politically doomed.
Hearing of the case of Bo Xilai’s close assistant Wang Lijun was over today, but Bo Xilai was not mentioned either by the court or the media.
However, as Wang’s crime of taking technical spying measures on various people without approval or through faked formalities of approval may refer to what was rumored about his spying on Hu Jintao and other leaders. he may have done so due to instruction from Bo Xilai. However, as the hearing about that crime was carried out in secret, we do not know whether Wang indeed spied on top leaders and whether Bo was involved. If Bo was involved, Bo will certainly be prosecuted for that.
It seems that Bo was clever enough not to leave any documentary evidence on that; therefore, if Bo gave instruction on the spying orally without any other person present, there will not be enough evidence to accuse Bo. Otherwise Bo would have been deprived of his NPC membership in the recent meeting of NPC Standing Committee.
Hong Kong papers reports on the trial:
According to Ming Pao and Singtao Daily, the two half-day hearings of Wang Lijun’s case of bending the law in some people’s favor, attempting defect, abusing power and taking bribes finished today.
Ming Pao says: The prosecutor accused Wang of bending the law in Gu Kailai’s favor in knowingly covering up Gu Kailai’s crime of murder, betraying his country by fleeing to the consulate of a foreign country, taking technical spying measures on various people without approval or through faked formalities of approval and taking bribes worth 3.05 million yuan of Renminbi.
However, the prosecutor said that there were grounds for mitigation: First, he later asked Chongqing Public Security Bureau to reopen the case of Gu Kailai’s murder of Neil Heywood, supplied evidence for investigation and preserved physical evidence. He has thus played an important role in helping the public security organ crack the case. Second, he surrendered himself to the authority.
Xinhua, the official news agency, says that the court has served a copy of the prosecution to Wang Lijun, the defendant, informed him of his litigation rights and obligations and notified his lawyer to interview the defendant and review all the files of the case to safeguard Wang’s litigation rights.
As Wang’s crimes of attempting defect and abusing power of office involved state secret, the court did not conduct an open hearing yesterday on the said crimes, but the hearing today on his crimes of taking bribes and bending the law in some people’s favor was conducted in the open.
At the court, the procuratorate produced relevant evidence. Cross-examinations were carried out by Wang and his lawyers. Both parties fully expressed their opinions. Wang’s relatives, reporters from media, NPC deputies, CPPCC members and people from various circles were present during the open hearing.
Singtao Daily says: Yang Yuquan, spokesman of Chengdu Intermediate People’s Court said: Wang pleaded guilty of all counts of his crimes and he was in good health now.
Yang pointed out that Wang’s crime of bending the law in Gu Kailai’s favor is especially serious while that of defect is also serious and that Wang should also be liable for his other crimes.
Yang also mentioned the grounds for mitigation provided by the procuratorate.
He said that the hearing was over and verdict would be given at the time decided by the court.
SCMP says: “The mainland media took a low-key approach in their reports on Monday’s sentencing of Gu Kailai, the wife of Chongqing’s former party chief Bo Xilai.
“It was an obvious attempt to swiftly move on from the nation’s biggest political scandal in decades ahead of the Communist Party’s 10-yearly congress to reshuffle its top leadership.
“On state-run Chongqing Satellite Television’s 6.30pm news programme, which reflects government positions, an anchorwoman read a 20-second story on Gu’s murder trial.
“She said Gu had received a suspended death sentence for murdering British businessman Neil Heywood, but it did not include pictures or video.”
“The Chongqing Evening News ran a small headline on Gu’s sentencing at the bottom of its front page, below stories about the industrialisation conference and a food-safety programme involving local restaurants.
“Other newspapers, such as the Chongqing Economic Times and the Chongqing Morning Post, also had small headlines on their front pages referring to Xinhua’s report.”
SCMP’s Shi Jiangtao reports from Beijing: “Bo Guagua, who was at the centre of the political scandal that brought down his father, former Politburo member Bo Xilai, has emerged unscathed from the murder trial of his mother, Gu Kailai.
“Analysts said Gu may have used the politically charged trial – which ended with her being given a suspended death sentence for the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood last year – to exonerate her only child.
“They also said the trial, widely labelled a show trial, and the guilty verdict, which Gu chose not to appeal, appeared to be part of a behind-the-scenes deal to ensure Bo Guagua’s well-being.
“The 24-year-old was involved in a family financial dispute with Heywood, which Xinhua said triggered the ensuing scandal and the worst leadership crisis to hit China in decades.
“Gu, a former lawyer, confessed to the murder of Heywood during a seven-hour trial on August 9 but claimed she was forced to kill the Briton because her son’s life was threatened.
“Bo Guagua, believed to be in the US after recently graduating from Harvard, did not show up at the trial as a witness. Instead, he submitted written testimony – reportedly not accepted by the court – in defence of his mother.”
SCMP reports: “Trial of Bo Xilai’s wife is expected to result in lighter penalty than normal for murder, lawyers say
“The mainland authorities will announce the verdict in the murder trial of Gu Kailai, the wife of disgraced Politburo member Bo Xilai, on Monday morning, a court official confirmed yesterday.
“‘It’s set for next Monday morning at 9 o’clock,’ a spokeswoman said by telephone from the Anhui Intermediate People’s Court in Hefei, where the trial was held on August 9. She refused to give further details.”
“Gu and Zhang were charged with intentional homicide and they did not contest the charges.
“The most severe sentence for murder is death, but lawyers expect a lighter penalty after mainland media reported that Heywood had threatened Gu’s only son, Bo Guagua, and blamed her actions on a mental breakdown. “During those days last November, I suffered a mental breakdown after learning that my son was in jeopardy,” Xinhua quoted Gu as telling the court.”
SCMP’s Eugene Henderson reports from Manchester, UK: “The mother of murdered British businessman Neil Heywood last night said the speed of his alleged killers’ trial had left her ‘speechless’.
“Gu Kailai, the wife of disgraced politician Bo Xilai, did not contest the accusation that she had lured the Old Harrovian to a hotel room and poisoned him. And one of the most sensational criminal trials in recent Chinese history lasted just seven hours.
“While two British diplomats were allowed into the court, neither Heywood’s mother, Ann, nor his Chinese widow, Lulu, witnessed the politician’s wife being brought to justice. Foreign media were also barred from following the proceedings inside Hefei’s Intermediate People’s Court, hundreds of kilometres from Bo’s former power base in the southwestern municipality of Chongqing .
“Speaking from her home in south London, the businessman’s 74-year-old mother, said: ‘I really don’t know what I can say about this. I don’t know how to describe what’s happened.’
“She seemed taken aback by the chain of events and admitted she would ‘need time’ to take it all in, away from the questions from the media.”
SCMP reports: “Thursday’s trial of Gu Kailai, the wife of Chongqing’s former high-flying party boss Bo Xilai, raised more questions than answers about the biggest criminal scandal in the mainland’s recent history.
“The high-profile case is seen as a test of the party leadership’s will to promote justice and the rule of law. Some analysts say it also amounts to a trial of the justice system after three decades of legal reforms, given the glaring holes in the prosecution’s case.”
“The key question that has yet to be answered is what role Bo played in the case. Bo was not mentioned in the trial even though the motive for Gu’s alleged crime – “economic disputes” – was said to have involved a French property development and a Chongqing project under Bo’s jurisdiction.”
“He Weifang, a lawyer, said: ‘There wasn’t enough discussion and they didn’t bring key witnesses like Bo or Wang to the court.’”
SCMP’S Teddy Ng reports from Beijing: “Two observers at the hearing confirmed that prosecutors highlighted Wang’s role.
“‘[Gu] told Wang about her murder plan hours before the act and told him what had happened the next day,’ a close associate of the defendants, who was at the hearing, cited prosecutors as telling the court.”
“Not only was Wang notified of the plan, he put more police near the Chongqing hotel on November 13 as Gu mixed a rat poison containing cyanide with water and poured it into Heywood’s mouth after he became drunk on whisky, the associate quoted the prosecution as saying.
“Citing prosecutors, Xinhua said Gu and Zhang scattered drugs in the hotel room to create the impression Heywood died of a drug overdose.
“The prosecutors said Gu had colluded with Wang, her husband’s most trusted aide before they fell out, to set up Heywood on a drug trafficking charge after Gu came to believe he was threatening the safety of her son, Bo Guagua, the associate said. But Wang wouldn’t go ahead with the plan and Gu decided on her own to murder Heywood.
“The associate’s account matched a hearing summary posted online by Anhui-based writer Zhao Xiangcha, who was present as an observer. He confirmed yesterday that he wrote the posting, which was later deleted.
“Since no pens or paper were allowed in court, both observer accounts were based on their recollections.
“Zhao said the court heard Wang recorded a conversation with Gu the day after the murder and handed it to investigators as evidence.”
“The court was told Gu and Heywood had ‘economic disputes’ after plans for two construction projects, in France and Chongqing, collapsed. Xu Ming, chairman of the Dalian Shide Group, was involved in the projects. Heywood demanded £14 million (HK$170 million), one tenth of the revenue he expected to have pocketed if the projects continued, from Bo Guagua, who was in Britain at the time.
“Heywood later sent Bo Guagua an e-mail saying he would be ‘destroyed’ if he did not pay.”