The trial of one of China’s leading politicians enters a second day following a dramatic opening, during which Bo Xilai denied all charges levelled against him.
He is accused of receiving bribes from businessman Xu Ming, as well as embezzlement and abuse of power and his denial is said to have shocked authorities; Bo said he had admitted to the charges “against his will” while under questioning.
Bo’s estranged wife Gu, who is in prison for her part in the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood, testified against her husband. She alleges that her husband knew all about money and a villa in the French Riviera that were given to them by Xu Ming.
“Whenever we needed anything like plane tickets we always contacted Xu Ming, he helped us,” she testified.
Bo described his wife’s recollections as “laughable”, claiming that she is “crazy and lies all the time.”
China watchers say the trial is about burying a popular politician. Bo, once tipped to become one of the highest ranking members of the ruling Party is seen as one of the most charismatic Chinese politicians, and one who is popular among many ordinary Chinese people. Outside court Bo has his supporters who see the trial as a witch-hunt designed to eliminate potential threats to China’s established ruling order. One man told reporters:
“We ordinary citizens all know that Bo Xilai was an anti-gang-crime hero in Chongqing. The hero has been taken down, there is nothing we ordinary people can do. We want to attend his trial, but we are not allowed to. They call it a ‘public’ trial, but how is it ‘public’ if we ordinary people are not allowed to enter the courthouse?’‘
Many believe the fate of Bo has already been decided as China’s Communist party controls the courts, where 98 percent of cases end with a conviction.