Chinese court to allow Bo Xilai appeal

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A Chinese court says it has agreed to consider an appeal by disgraced top politician Bo Xilai.

The former Chongqing party leader was convicted of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power last month and jailed for life.

At his trial, he denied all the charges in a fiery defence.

Bo Xilai was removed from office last year amid a scandal which saw his wife convicted of the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.

It is almost certain that Bo's conviction will not be overturned as the courts are controlled by the ruling Communist Party, which long ago pronounced the politician guilty, the BBC's Martin Patience in Beijing reports.

Bo's many supporters maintain that he is the victim of a political purge, our correspondent adds.

The announcement regarding the appeal came on the website of the high court in Shandong, the province where Bo's trial was held.

"Within the appeal period, Bo Xilai refused to accept the court's first instance judgement and submitted an appeal through the Shandong Jinan Intermediate People's Court to this court," it said.

"After the appeal period expired on 8 October, upon examination, this court decided to accept the appeal, in accordance with the law."

No time period for the appeal was specified in the brief statement. Under Chinese law, the appeal should be heard within two months but could take longer in special cases.

'Political purge'

A source close to the Bo family told the New York Times newspaper that it was unlikely that the appeal would be heard in an open court.

Analysts say that the Chinese government would want to avoid giving Bo another opportunity for public defiance.

Bo Xilai's downfall came as China ushered in a new generation of leaders, amid a once-in-a-decade power transfer.

The charismatic politician 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.

Bo 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.

During his trial, Bo was also accused of abusing his office by using his position to cover up for his wife's crime.