A court in eastern China on Wednesday allowed ousted former senior politician Bo Xilai to appeal against a guilty verdict on charges of corruption and abuse of power handed out last month which earned him a life sentence.
Bo was a rising star in China’s leadership circles and cultivated a loyal following through his charisma and populist, quasi-Maoist policies, especially among those left out in the cold by China’s anything-for-growth economic policies.
But his career was stopped short last year by a murder scandal in which his wife, Gu Kailai, was convicted of poisoning a British businessman, Neil Heywood, who had been a family friend.
In a brief statement posted on its website, the high court in the eastern province of Shandong, where Bo was first tried, said it had allowed him to appeal. It gave no other details, and did not say when the appeal would be heard.
While Bo has the right to appeal, his sentence and the verdict are unlikely to be overturned as the courts are controlled by the ruling Communist Party which long ago pronounced him guilty.
A source with direct knowledge of the case said Bo had appealed “on the day the sentence was announced”.
“At that time he appealed verbally, and later submitted it in writing,” the source told Reuters, asking not to be named because of the political sensitivity of the case.
“He told the court of first instance that he would appeal and that is equivalent to the court receiving (the application). He also paid the appeal fee. It is not clear when the appeals court will start the review. It should be rather soon, perhaps this Friday or next week,” the source said.
Bo, 64, who was Communist Party chief of the southwestern metropolis of Chongqing, mounted an unexpectedly fiery defense during his trial, denouncing testimony against him by his wife as the ravings of a mad woman hoping to have her own sentence reduced.
He repeatedly said that he was not guilty of any of the charges, though he admitted making some bad decisions and shaming his country by his handling of former Chongqing police chief, Wang Lijun, who first told Bo that Gu had probably murdered Heywood.
Under Chinese rules, the appeal should be heard within two months.
Source: “China’s Bo Xilai allowed to appeal against life in jail”
Chinese rule-of-law and reformist factions’ power struggle against Bo Xilai and his faction was a vital battle for the establishment and implementation of the rule of law and further economic reform.
In a nutshell, the fight concerned the rule of law as Bo’s protégé Wang Lijun framed up and imprisoned defense lawyer Li Zhuang and gave rise to nationwide persecution of criminal defense lawyers. As a result, few lawyers dared to act as defense lawyers in criminal cases. The democracy and law faction led by Qiao Shi, Shanghai faction’s Wu Bangguo and some brave lawyers amended China’s criminal procedure law and protected defense lawyers. The struggle was described in my posts “Victory of Rule of Law over Despotism” on March 31, 2012 and “Rule of law and democracy advocator Qiao Shi returns” dated June 22, 2012 and in greater details in the second edition of my book “Tiananmen’s Tremendous Achievements” soon to be released.
It also concerned further economic reform. Bo advocated the return of Maoism and the development of the state-owned sector while the reformists wanted further economic liberalization to enable the private sector to compete with the state-owned factor. My previous posts have also mentioned that but the second edition of my book gives much greater details.
Pending the publication of the second edition, I give below the full text of SCMP’s report on Bo Xilai’s verdict titled “Bo Xilai’s cries of defiance after he is sentenced to life in prison for corruption”:
Explosive ending to politically charged trial as shamed princeling yells out ‘Unjust!’ after being found guilty of corruption and abuse of power
Bo Xilai erupted in anger as he was sentenced to life in prison for corruption yesterday.
The fallen former Politburo member yelled out “Unfair!” and “Unjust!” in an explosive ending to one of the country’s most politically charged trials in decades.
The Jinan Intermediate People’s Court in Shandong found him guilty on all three counts of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power.
But before being forcibly taken away by the court’s guards, Bo shouted: “The decision was not based on facts. The court is neither open nor just and didn’t take the points made by my defence lawyers and me.”
The defiant outburst – consistent with the combative defence Bo maintained during his five-day trial last month – was omitted from official accounts of the proceedings.
The court’s microblog said only that Bo “was escorted out of the courtroom” after the verdict was announced.
China Central Television broadcast footage of handcuffed Bo – wearing an open-necked white shirt, black slacks and black trainers – showing a hint of a smile as the verdict was read out.
Outside the court, the police presence appeared heavier than during the trial, underscoring the sensitivity of the event.
The sentence is the most severe punishment of a former Politburo member since the so-called Gang of Four’s trial in 1980-81.
And it capped an 18-month political drama that some feared would cause a major rift in the Communist Party.
The sentence surprised some analysts who believed that Bo, formerly the Chongqing party boss, would receive a relatively light punishment.
Zhang Ming, a political science professor with Renmin University in Beijing, had expected a sentence of 20 years.
“The severe punishment was due to Bo’s refusal to admit to the charges against him,” Zhang said. “The top authorities were certainly not happy about that.”
He added that the sentence would also demonstrate the leadership’s resolve in the anti-corruption drive launched by President Xi Jinping.
As the princeling son of the late revolutionary Bo Yibo , Bo was seen as a standard-bearer for the party’s more conservative wing.
His campaigns to revive Mao Zedong-era culture and to crack down on crime made him popular in Chongqing, but a controversial figure among rights advocates and party liberals.
Bo, 64, now faces the prospect of life behind bars, although mainland criminal law could allow his sentence to be commuted to 15-20 years after he has served two years and made an “extraordinary contribution”.
However, the sentence means Bo cannot expect to be released until after the 20th party congress in 2022, when Xi would be expected to retire as party chief.
Zhang said: “It serves to manifest [the leadership’s] determination and also ensures Bo won’t get out during their tenure.”
A source with the State Council, China’s cabinet, said the leadership tried to account for all possibilities while deciding on Bo’s sentence.
If he had been given a lighter sentence, such as 15-20 years, he could potentially have been released in as few as eight years.
“Then, he could still become a very destabilising factor for the party,” the source said.
Specifically, Bo was sentenced to life for taking bribes worth 20.4 million yuan (HK$25.7 million), 15 years for embezzling 5 million yuan and seven years for abuse of power by demoting his former police chief, Wang Lijun . The sentences will run concurrently.
But the court accepted that the prosecution failed to present enough evidence to convict him of taking 1.3 million yuan from Dalian businessman Xu Ming to provide air travel for his wife Gu Kailai and son Bo Guagua.
Gu has already received a suspended death sentence for murdering British businessman Neil Heywood. Wang was sentenced to 15 years in prison for bribery and abuse of power, among other crimes.
Bo has 10 days to file an appeal, something his family and associates expected him to do.
Former Politburo member, former Beijing party chief Chen Xitong sought unsuccessfully to overturn his corruption conviction a decade ago.
Source: SCMP “Bo Xilai’s cries of defiance after he is sentenced to life in prison for corruption”
Fallen politician Bo Xilai put up a feisty defense on Thursday as he faced China’s most political trial in decades, saying he was framed in one of the bribery charges against him and had admitted to it against his will during interrogation.
The 64-year-old former Communist Party chief of the southwestern city of Chongqing has been charged with illegally taking almost 27 million yuan ($4.41 million), corruption and abuse of power and will almost certainly be found guilty.
Bo’s denial of one of the charges and strong language as he made his first public appearance since being ousted early last year were unexpected. But observers said he could have struck a deal with authorities to show he was getting a fair trial in exchange for a pre-arranged sentence.
President Xi Jinping is seeking unstinted support from the party as he seeks to push reforms that will rebalance the economy, and will want Bo’s trial to be finished quickly and with a minimum of fuss.
“He (Bo) is clearly going along with this trial,” said Nicholas Bequelin, a researcher for New York-based Human Rights Watch. “The outcome has been already decided. There’s probably an agreement already between Bo and the party as to what the outcome will be.”
Bo’s downfall has pitted supporters of his Maoist-themed egalitarian social programs against the capitalist-leaning economic road taken by the leadership in Beijing, exposing divisions within the ruling party as well as Chinese society.
Bo was one of China’s rising political stars and his trial in the eastern city of Jinan marks the culmination of the country’s biggest political scandal since the 1976 downfall of the Gang of Four at the end of the Cultural Revolution.
Appearing somber, a clean-shaven Bo, whose hair looked like it was still dyed black, stood in the dock without handcuffs, according to television pictures. He was dressed in a long-sleeved white shirt and stood with his hands crossed in front of him, flanked by two policemen.
Foreign media were not allowed to attend the trial and Bo’s remarks were carried on the court’s official microblog, so are likely to have been highly edited. Still, the transcripts provided by the court mark a level of openness that is unprecedented for a trial in China.
“Regarding the matter of Tang Xiaolin giving me money three times, I once admitted it against my will during the Central Discipline Inspection Commission’s investigation against me,” Bo said, referring to the party’s top anti-graft body.
“(I’m) willing to bear the legal responsibilities, but at that time I did not know the circumstances of these matters: my mind was a blank,” he added.
Bo was charged with receiving about 21.8 million yuan ($3.56 million) in bribes from Xu Ming, a plastics-to-property entrepreneur who is a close friend and is in custody, and Tang, the general manager of Hong Kong-based export company Dalian International Development Ltd, the court said.
Bo called Tang “a mad dog” who wanted to “frame me out of consideration for his own interests”.
“This evidence has little to do with my criminality,” Bo said. “I was just hoodwinked. I thought it was all official business.”
Bo also denied receiving bribes from Xu.
“The entire process is fabricated, I have never admitted to this 20 million yuan from the beginning to the end,” Bo said.
Bo received the bribes from Tang through his wife, Gu Kailai, and his son, Bo Guagua, the court said, citing the indictment.
It was the first time that authorities had named the younger Bo in the case against his father. Guagua is now in the United States, pursuing a law degree at Columbia University.
Bo Guagua was not immediately available for comment.
Tang’s whereabouts are unclear. A secretary at Dalian International’s office in Hong Kong said she had not seen Tang since May or June last year. There was also no one at his last known residential address in Hong Kong.
Written evidence from Gu was provided to the court in which she said she had seen a large amount of cash in safes at two of their residences, money which matched the amount alleged given to Bo from Tang.
Bo said that testimony was “laughable”.
Bo’s gutsy lambasting of the prosecution’s questions has won him admiration from many Chinese following the case online, even if it was always part of the plan agreed between Bo and the party.
“He knows exactly what to say and what not to say,” said Zhang Sizhi, who defended Mao Zedong’s widow Jiang Qing during the Gang of Four trial in 1980. “It seems some sort of understanding was reached ahead of time.”
Bo’s trial will last for two days and the verdict is likely to be in early September, state broadcaster CCTV said.
Court spokesman Liu Yanjie said Bo was “emotionally stable and physically healthy” during the trial.
The Jinan Intermediate Court said on its microblog feed that five of Bo’s family members attended the hearing. In another picture published by the court, Bo’s siblings appeared to be in court. The court said over 100 people filled the courtroom.
Underscoring popular support for Bo, a handful of supporters protested outside the courthouse for a second day to denounce what they said was politically motivated persecution. Police, who had blocked off the courthouse, hustled them away.
Bo also embezzled 5 million yuan from a government project in the northeastern city of Dalian, where he served as mayor, the court said.
The charge of abuse of power against Bo relates to the murder case involving Gu, the court said. Bo was a rising star in China’s leadership circles when his career was stopped short last year by the scandal involving Gu, who was convicted of the November 2011 murder of British businessman Neil Heywood, a business partner and family friend.
Bo’s former police chief in Chongqing, Wang Lijun, has also been jailed for trying to cover up the case. Bo was furious with Wang when he was told that his wife was a murder suspect, and sacked him despite not having party authority to do so, sources with knowledge of the case have said.
Neither did he report the matter to his bosses in Beijing, all of which led to the abuse of power charge, they said.
Bo could face the death sentence, though a suspended death sentence is more likely, which effectively means life imprisonment, or a 20-year term.
His guilt is an almost foregone conclusion given that prosecutors and courts come under Communist Party control.
Source: Reuters “I was framed, says China’s Bo as he mounts feisty defense”
The curtain may be about to fall on China’s disgraced leader Bo Xilai, but victims of the harsh brand of justice he handed out in a high-profile crime crackdown are not making any headway in their campaign for redress.
Lawyers estimate there are thousands of cases demanding restitution in the foggy southwestern metropolis of Chongqing, which Bo ruled as Communist Party boss until he was dramatically sacked early last year amid lurid allegations of graft and murder.
Bo is to stand trial from Thursday and his police chief and his wife have already been jailed over the scandal stemming from the November 2011 murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.
But despite the official repudiation of Bo’s tactics in Chongqing, China has shown little appetite to follow or publicize cases brought by the victims of his crackdown, largely because it could focus unwanted public attention on how the Communist Party operates.
Critics say Bo was simply doing what other party leaders were doing elsewhere, and continue to do – using courts, prosecutors and police to enforce their will. Openly vindicating Bo’s victims could open a can of worms, they said.
“Bo Xilai was a leader in the party and the government, and didn’t he interfere with the law? They (the government) don’t want to give people a pretext to find fault with them,” said Liu Yang, an attorney who published an open letter last year urging fellow lawyers to form a team to review criminal cases in Chongqing.
More than 4,000 people were arrested during Bo’s much-heralded campaign against organized crime, launched in 2009, according to state media, though the government has never released figures for the number jailed.
Bo won national attention with his “strike the black” offensive, but critics have said it involved abuses such as torture and the jailing of innocent people.
As the appeals by Bo’s victims mount, their demands for justice are emerging as a potent challenge for the government, already struggling to contain the consequences of the politically divisive case that has exposed rifts within Chinese society.
“When I defend my clients in court, I cite a Chinese proverb: ‘one miscarriage of justice will lead to three generations of hatred’,” Liu said.
“The wounds that have been borne by these miscarriages of justice, they’ll never forget.”
Before his dramatic fall last year, Bo was set to join the upper ranks of China’s leadership. But his rise was stopped by a murder scandal involving his wife, Gu Kailai, and his former police chief, Wang Lijun. Both Gu and Wang have since been jailed.
Bo is set to stand trial on charges of bribery and abuse of power in the eastern city of Jinan and is almost certain to be found guilty.
Liu said the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Justice told him to disband his organization to offer legal services to families in Chongqing just three days after he had published his open letter. Officials at the bureau could not be reached for comment.
According to Liu, the officials told him at a meeting: “At first, we approved of your action – it is motivated out of goodwill – but because you are not in line with policies of the central government, and your information isn’t the same as that of the decision-makers, so we’re afraid your work may sometimes affect the stability and unity that we have”.
After his appointment as party boss of Chongqing in 2007, Bo turned the region into a showcase of revolution-inspired Maoist “red” culture, as well as state-led economic growth.
Bo’s populist ways were welcomed by many of Chongqing’s 30 million residents. But critics said the anti-crime campaign trampled rudimentary legal safeguards and was used to weed out people who Bo and Wang disliked.
During Bo’s anti-crime drive, Chongqing police held thousands of suspects and prosecuted dozens of businessmen and women and officials accused of extortion, graft or running syndicates to protect rackets and prostitution.
One of the reasons petitions for redress are blocked is that judges and prosecutors in Chongqing who have ruled on these allegedly wrongful convictions are still in office. The Chongqing government could not be reached for comment.
“Several prosecutors who handled the wrongful convictions are still in their positions in court, so to ask that they correct their own mistakes, that’s somewhat difficult,” said Chen Youxi, a lawyer who is representing two clients who say they were wrongfully convicted.
LARGE VOLUME OF CASES
Li Zhuang, a former lawyer and outspoken critic of Bo, said he is giving legal advice to more than a dozen people hoping to seek redress for their jailed relatives.
“If it’s one or two cases, it’s easy to handle, but when the volume is too large, what can you do?” Li said. “The government is now probably in a bind about this.”
Li is himself appealing a conviction on charges of persuading a client to commit perjury. He was sentenced to a two and a half years in jail in early 2010 after vigorously defending a client on trial in Chongqing’s anti-gang campaign.
Others caught in Bo’s dragnet included critics such as Gao Yingpu, who was sentenced to three years in prison in 2010 on a charge of “inciting subversion of state power” after he criticized Bo’s crackdown on organized crime.
Earlier this year, Gao appealed to have his name cleared, said a source with direct knowledge of his situation. The source declined to be named for fear of retribution.
The authorities have not responded to Gao, who was released in January after his sentence was cut by six months, according to the source.
Among the people persecuted during Bo’s time, a large proportion were policemen. More than 5,600 police officers were punished by Wang over three years, Chinese media reported.
Family members say Wang wanted to remove officers he thought were loyal to the city’s former justice chief and deputy police chief, Wen Qiang, who was executed in 2010 for protecting gangs, accepting bribes, rape and property scams.
One typical case was that of a 50-year-old police officer sentenced to 17 years in prison for accepting bribes and protecting gangs. His lawyer, Chi Susheng, said her client was targeted by Wang because he had worked for Wen and maintains that the charges are fabricated.
During his questioning, the police officer said he endured beatings, nine days of sleep deprivation and other torture to force him to confess to a crime he did not commit, according to his wife, who asked that the names of her and her husband not be disclosed. Now in prison, the police officer is depressed, she said.
“We will probably appeal for our entire lifetimes, until the day we die,” said his wife.
When asked about the prospects for Bo’s trial, she said: “I think even if there are loopholes in the law, God will not tolerate him.
“Heaven is watching, I believe he will not meet a good end.”
Source: Reuters “Despite Bo’s trial in China, no redress for victims of his crackdown”
The trial of disgraced senior Chinese politician Bo Xilai will start on Thursday, when he will face charges of bribery, corruption and abuse of power in China’s most divisive and dramatic case in decades.
The long-awaited trial of Bo, 64, a “princeling” son of a late vice premier who is still popular with conservatives and the disaffected, will be the country’s highest-profile hearing since the 1976 downfall of Mao Zedong’s widow, Jiang Qing, and her Gang of Four at the end of the Cultural Revolution.
Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, and his estranged police chief, Wang Lijun, have both been jailed over the scandal stemming from the November 2011 murder of British businessman Neil Heywood in the southwestern city of Chongqing, where Bo was Communist Party boss.
Bo’s trial will open at the Intermediate People’s Court in Jinan, capital of the eastern coastal province of Shandong, at 8:30 a.m. (0030 GMT) on Thursday, Xinhua said in a terse report on Sunday. It gave no further details.
A court spokeswoman confirmed the report, but would not say how long the trial would last, though it could be just a day.
Bo’s main lawyer, Li Guifang, did not answer telephone calls seeking comment.
It is almost certain Bo will be convicted as China’s prosecutors and judges are controlled by the ruling Communist Party, and he could theoretically be sentenced to death.
“I hope he does not get the death penalty, as this is a method of punishment we should be using less off. But I would expect a strong punishment,” said Li Zhuang, a lawyer and prominent opponent of Bo during his time as Chongqing party boss.
The Wall Street Journal said that Bo’s wife would be the key witness for the prosecution.
But a source familiar with the situation, who declined to be identified citing the sensitivity of the matter, said Gu would not testify.
It is not clear if she has provided any evidence already to the prosecution.
How Bo’s case is handled will be a test of newly installed President Xi Jinping’s steel in the battle against deeply ingrained corruption and also show how he has been able to stamp his authority on the party, which he leads.
Xi has vowed to fight both “tigers” and “flies” – in other words people at every level of the party – as he combats graft so serious that he has warned it threatens the party’s very survival.
However, his campaign has so far netted precious few “tigers”, and in any case the Bo scandal pre-dates Xi’s time as national leader.
Bo, a former commerce minister, used his post as party boss of Chongqing to cast the sprawling, haze-covered municipality into a showcase for his mix of populist policies and bold spending plans that won support from leftists yearning for a charismatic leader.
Bo’s former police chief, Wang, had spearheaded a controversial drive against organized crime, a prominent plank in Bo’s barely concealed campaign to join the top ranks of the party.
Censors appeared to relax the normal tight controls on discussing the trial on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo microblogging service, though opinions were split, reflecting the deep divisions the case has exposed.
“I don’t really believe anything about this case, and I don’t know if we’ll ever get to the bottom of it,” wrote one user.
“He had ruthless ambition like Hitler and had a talent for co-opting public opinion,” wrote another.
The trial will almost certainly be conducted behind closed doors, which will play into the suspicions of many in China that Bo is simply a victim of elite infighting.
Bao Tong, the most senior government official jailed over the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests, urged the government to grant Bo an open and fair trial, saying it was necessary to prevent the assumption that his case is “a product of a political struggle”.
Bao also criticized the authorities for detaining a supporter of Bo and preventing a family-appointed lawyer from representing Bo.
“This means that justice is not impartial, justice is only playacting,” Bao told Reuters earlier this month. “Now the program has been prepared, the director is there, the actors have rehearsed. We’re just waiting for the performance.”
Source: Reuters “China’s fallen former high-flyer Bo to stand trial Thursday”
According to SCMP’s report today titled “Jailed former Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun settles into prison life”, Wang Lijun, the monster police head who persecuted lots of people on the excuse of fighting organized crime still has a number of admirers in Chongqing who remember Bo Xilai’s rule fondly, and have also praised Wang’s contribution towards improving the city’s public security.
Some supporters from Chongqing or Wang’s hometown in Liaoning province even took dishes of dumplings to the prison and dedicated them to Wang on the eve of Lunar New Year last month.
For them, human rights and the rule of law are nothing. Forget human rights and the rule of law. Just give us good public order. That’s what they care.
Wang and Bo Xilai are charismatic and talented. In such a China, they may return to power as Bo Xilai predicted when China does not have good leaders to counter them.
Just think about Mao Zedong, the monster who caused the death of famine of more than 20 million people and persecuted countless people during his “Great” Cultural Revolution.
He remained popular not only among lots of Chinese people but also among quiet a few people outside China. Henry Kissinger praised Mao in his book “On China” perhaps to please China where he has been making lots of money, but he would not have written in praise of Mao if there had not been a large number of Mao’s admirers in the world.
In such a China and even such a world, human rights and the rule of law are very difficult to achieve. Those who fight for human rights and the rule of law have to be patient and prepared to make generations of efforts.
The following is the full text of SCMP report:
Wang Lijun is comfortable, says his family, with workouts to keep fit and a TV for entertainment
Wang Lijun, the former police chief of Chongqing is leading a comfortable life in a prison on the outskirts of Beijing, a source close to his family said.
“He stays in a good mental state and has put on some weight compared with when he stood trial in September,” the source quoted a family member who had visited Wang as saying.
Wang, whose flight to the US consulate in Chengdu in February last year triggered the country’s biggest political scandal in decades, was jailed for 15 years in September for bribery, bending the law, abuse of power and attempted defection.
The source said Wang’s food and accommodation were better than expected. “Wang lives in a single-room which has everything one could expect to find, including a television to watch and newspapers and magazines to read,” the source said.
However, he has no computer and no access to the internet.
He is being held in Qincheng Prison, which is administered by the Ministry of Public Security and was built to hold officials above vice-ministerial level.
Inmates are believed to include former Shanghai Communist Party secretary Chen Liangyu, former Guangdong people’s congress chief Chen Shaoji and Wang Huayuan , who was formerly the top anti-corruption official in Guangdong and Zhejiang. The source added that Wang worked out regularly.
The right-hand man of former Chongqing Communist Party secretary Bo Xilai, Wang fell out with his boss for reporting early last year that Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, was a suspect in the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.
Fearing persecution by Bo, Wang fled to Chengdu, the capital of neighbouring Sichuan province, and sought refuge in its US consulate. He left the consulate the next day and was escorted to Beijing by state security officials.
Since his jailing, Wang has been criticised for what some saw as his harsh treatment of his subordinates in the police force. Others have said he sacrificed the rule of law during a sweeping crackdown on organised crime in Chongqing that started in 2009.
But a number of ordinary Chongqing residents remember Bo’s rule fondly, and have also praised Wang’s contribution towards improving the city’s public security.
The source said some supporters from Chongqing or Wang’s hometown in Liaoning province had taken dishes of dumplings to the prison and dedicated them to Wang on the eve of Lunar New Year last month. “It was a heartfelt gesture even though he [Wang] failed to receive the gifts,” the source said.
Source: SCMP “Jailed former Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun settles into prison life”
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.