China

Chinese court rejects Bo Xilai appeal and upholds life sentence

  • 25 October 2013
  • From the section China

A Chinese court has rejected the appeal of former politician Bo Xilai and upheld his life sentence for bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power.

The former Chongqing Communist Party leader was convicted of the charges in September.

He was removed from office in 2012 amid a scandal which saw his wife convicted of a British businessman's murder.

The high court in Shandong, the province where Bo's trial was held, accepted his appeal earlier this month.

"The facts of the first instance verdict are clear, the evidence is reliable, sufficient and the sentence is appropriate," the high court said in its ruling, which was posted on its website.

"The court rules as follows: reject the appeal, uphold the original verdict. This verdict is the final ruling."

The hearing appeared to have been brief, with the verdict coming about an hour after a convoy believed to be carrying Bo was seen arriving at the court.

Footage from state broadcaster CCTV showed Bo's elder son, Li Wangzhi, in court with other relatives.

Bo only receives one chance to appeal and his sentence is now final. He could submit a complaint to the Supreme People's Court in Beijing, but the vast majority of such complaints are rejected and do not result in another trial, reports the BBC's Celia Hatton in Beijing.

Correspondents said few expected Bo's conviction to be overturned. The courts are controlled by the ruling Communist Party, from which Bo was expelled from last year.

Shake-up

Bo Xilai, the charismatic former party chief in the city of Chongqing in south-western China, was a member of the powerful politburo - one of the 25 most senior party officials in the country.

But he was removed from office last year amid a scandal which began when his deputy, Wang Lijun, sought refuge in the US consulate in Chengdu.

The incident prompted an investigation into the death of British businessman Neil Heywood.

Bo Xilai's wife, Gu Kailai, was eventually convicted of Mr Heywood's murder - a crime caused, the court said, by a financial dispute.

Wang was also jailed for 15 years for helping Gu cover up the murder.

Bo himself was found guilty of taking bribes amounting to 20m yuan ($3.3m, £2m) either personally or through his family. He was also accused of abusing his office by using his position to cover up for his wife's crime.

Bo's supporters, however, believe he is the victim of a political purge. His downfall came as China prepared for its once-in-a-decade leadership transfer, as one generation of leaders made way for the next.

Bo had been seen as a candidate for the very top, until his fall from grace. It was the biggest political shake-up to hit China's ruling elite in decades.

The final verdict in the Bo case comes weeks before the Communist Party holds a major meeting in November to set economic policy.