A mobile phone held by the photographer shows a photo from a court’s microblog page of disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai standing trial (Reuters)
The widely watched trial of former senior official Bo Xilai was broadcast live on Weibo over the past two days, a surprise for many people at both home and abroad.
Pictures and video clips were shown. Transcripts from both the defense and prosecution were also released, including parts where Bo denied evidence presented by prosecutors.
This degree of transparency has not happened before. This will create a precedent that will bring lasting impact to the future trials of sensitive cases.
This Weibo live feed has served as an important guarantee of a fair trial for Bo in accordance with the law. The live show has addressed various doubts and rumors in and outside China. It demonstrated that the authorities are ready to receive more public scrutiny.
This is not a political trial, nor a moral one. This will only be a trial by law. Even if someone might have personal goals, before the public eye, there is no way to achieve anything in this trial, anything that is not tolerated by the law.
Besides assuring a fair trial for Bo’s case, the Weibo live feed has also convinced more people about China’s sincere desire to improve the rule of law.
For a while, the Chinese public has been complaining about injustice in constant news reports of scandals or social issues.
The open and transparent trial of Bo provided a different picture to the public, which will significantly change the image of the judicial system.
The most important thing now is to have a fair trial for Bo’s case, which will naturally boost the public’s confidence.
We have seen a very good opening of this trial, with widespread applause and support from various walks of life.
Of course, the Weibo live feed is not without risks. Breaking news about Bo’s scandal had already become a sensation. People have been expressing all kinds of opinions online, no matter how much they know of China’s legal system. Foreign media have also shown great interest in covering this.
No matter what ruling the court eventually gives, there must be some different opinions from the public. The Weibo live feed provided great details of the trial, which will only add fuel to the public discussion about this case.
The development of the rule of law needs both the judicial authorities’ hard work in each case and public support.
Major cases will not only avoid “political judgment,” but also “public opinion judgment.”
A fair trial needs to follow strict legal procedures, while under public scrutiny.
But in the end, it is the court that is responsible for giving a ruling according to the law.
Contributed by By Global Times
Bo Contradicts Wife as Chinese Media Stress Trial’s Transparency
Ousted Politburo member Bo Xilai suggested his wife made up evidence to avoid a death sentence and denied covering up a British man’s murder at a trial that state media said was proof no one’s above the law in China.
“I feel there are big discrepancies in the charges I have been accused of,” Bo said yesterday of the claim that he tried to hide his wife Gu Kailai’s involvement in Neil Heywood’s murder, according to a transcript released by the court. Gu was given a suspended death sentence last year for killing Heywood, and Bo is accused of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power.
People watch a recorded testimony by Gu Kailai, wife of former Chinese Politburo member Bo Xilai, broadcast at a hotel near the Jinan Intermediate People’s Court in Jinan on Aug. 23, 2013. Photographer: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images.
Aug. 22 (Bloomberg) — Fraser Howie, a director at Newedge Singapore and co-author of “Red Capitalism: The Fragile Financial Foundation of China’s Extraordinary Rise,” talks about former Politburo member Bo Xilai’s trial. Bo went on trial today for bribery and embezzlement with China’s judiciary as much in the spotlight as the man at the center of the country’s most politically charged case in 30 years. Howie speaks from Singapore with Angie Lau on Bloomberg Television’s “Asia Edge.” (Source: Bloomberg).
Aug. 23 (Bloomberg) –- Bloomberg’s Stephen Engle reports on the start of day two of the Bo Xilai trial on Bloomberg Television’s “First Up.” (Source: Bloomberg) .
Aug. 23 (Bloomberg) –- Chinese University Of Hong Kong Adjunct Professor Willy Lam discusses the Bo Xilai trial with Rishaad Salamat on Bloomberg Television’s “On The Move Asia.” (Source: Bloomberg)
Bo, 64, mounted a defense that did an effective job of exposing gaps in the case against him, even though the Communist Party remains in control and a guilty verdict is almost certain, according toNicholas Bequelin, a Hong Kong-based researcher for Human Rights Watch. The case has broken with past political trials because the court is releasing live updates and detailed transcripts of the proceedings.
“It’s clear that the party is trying to give maximum legitimacy to the judiciary proceedings that will put an end to the Bo Xilai affair,’ Bequelin said. ‘‘But I think that the effect has been somewhat unexpected for the authorities. Bo is coming out looking pretty good.”
Bo, a former commerce minister and party secretary of Chongqing municipality, was once considered a rising star in the Communist Party. His downfall in March of last year upended a once-a-decade leadership transition and shone a spotlight on corruption at the party’s highest levels.
Along with bribery and embezzlement charges that had been the focus since the trial began Aug. 22, Bo is charged with abuse of power for allegedly trying to cover up Gu’s role in Heywood’s 2011 murder. The court came to that charge yesterday, and the trial continues today.
Bo was removed as Chongqing party secretary and ousted from the Politburo last year after his former police chief in the city, Wang Lijun, fled to a U.S. consulate with evidence about his wife’s alleged involvement in Heywood’s death. Wang testified yesterday that Bo slapped him in the face when confronted with the possibility that Gu was responsible for the murder.
“My body twitched, and when he was done hitting me, he went back to sit at the table,” Wang testified yesterday. “I noticed my mouth was bleeding, and something was flowing out of my ear.”
Wang was convicted of “bending the law for selfish ends” and sentenced to 15 years in prison last year.
Testimony by Gu has been a central part of the prosecution’s case, and included claims yesterday that Bo knew about a 5 million-yuan ($817,000) “consulting fee” given to the family by Wang Zhenggang, a former urban planning official in Dalian when Bo was the city mayor.
“I have feelings for Gu Kailai — she is a relatively weak woman,” Bo said yesterday, according to the transcript. “By telling on someone else she could soon get out of the death penalty. Who could she accuse? All the accusations against me come from Gu Kailai.”
Police cordoned off the streets around the courthouse with metal barricades and yellow plastic tape, emptying out an area about the size of two football fields in what’s normally a crowded city center. The only people on the streets nearby were police in blue uniforms, while black sedans and white vans occasionally came and went from the court building.
Bo’s testimony gave details about his life with Gu, and why she and their son, Bo Guagua, moved abroad. Guagua went to the elite British boarding school Harrow and later to Oxford University, and then graduated from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
“I did have extramarital affairs — she was very angry about that,” Bo said, adding that he had no need to embezzle money because his wife had made millions of yuan as a lawyer. “So her bringing Guagua abroad was out of anger.”
In a country where the Communist Party maintains strict control of sensitive political trials, the state-run Global Times newspaper said in an editorial the decision to release updates on Weibo, Sina Corp.’s Twitter-like microblogging platform, “served as an important guarantee of a fair trial for Bo in accordance with the law.”
“This degree of transparency has not happened before,” the editorial said. “This will create a precedent that will bring lasting impact to the future trials of sensitive cases.”
The details revealed in the trial demonstrate that “no one is above the law,” the party’s flagship People’s Daily newspaper said. “In the fight against corruption we are after both flies and tigers.”
The official Xinhua News Agency said both domestic and foreign media have “hailed the openness and transparency” of the live blogging.
“The public also generally believe that this showcases the Communist Party of China’s resolve in combating corruption and that the move represents historic progress for the rule of law in China,” Xinhua said.
Allowing so much of Bo’s trial to be aired publicly is risky for the Communist Party because it may garner Bo new support from people impressed by his vigorous defense, according to Randy Peerenboom, a law professor at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia. That, in turn, may backfire on Bo because the party is still in control, he said.
“If it is the case that Bo Xilai has once again wandered off-script, and the leadership is worried that his cool performance under pressure has won him new admirers, then it is possible that he will receive a much harsher punishment than originally planned,” Peerenboom wrote in an e-mail.
– Contributed by Bloomberg News – Aug 25, 2013
Wife and police chief ‘in love triangle’
The most spectacular trial that China has ever witnessed closed with its biggest shock of all as Bo Xilai revealed a tragic love affair between his wife and his city Chongqing’s police chief.
Defiant until the end of his trial on charges of corruption and abuse of power, the 64-year-old fallen leader brushed his lawyers aside to make a final oration that displayed all the bravura that made him such a magnetic figure
, and caused China’s other leaders such anxiety.
Behind the biggest drama to hit China‘s Communist Party since the protests in Tiananmen Square, Mr Bo said, was a story of how Chongqing’s police chief, Wang Lijun, had fallen inexorably in love with his wife, Gu Kailai.
Gu Kailai, wife of ousted Chinese Communist Party Politburo member Bo Xilai
When Mr Bo caught the pair, he claimed, the police chief of the city he ruled had fled his wrath, running to the safety of the United States consulate in a city 160 miles away, a treason which led to their mutual downfall.
“Wang was secretly in love with Gu Kailai for a long time,” Mr Bo told the court, adding that the police chief had declared his passion in a love letter. “In the letter it said he had always had feelings for Kailai and he could not help himself. He even slapped himself in the face eight times.”
“You are acting crazily,” Gu told her suitor, according to Mr Bo. “No, I used to be crazy, but now I am sane,” Wang allegedly replied.
Former police chief Wang Lijun (Reuters) >>
Mr Bo said Wang had visited his home every day because he was drawn to his wife, and suggested the relationship did not go unrequited.
“They had an extremely special relationship. I was fed up with it,” said Mr Bo. “Gu Kailai even brought Wang’s shoes into my house. I told Zhang Xiaojun (an aide) to get rid of them immediately”.
But when Mr Bo uncovered the relationship, his city’s police chief knew he had made a potentially fatal mistake. “He knew my character. He hurt my family. He hurt my feelings,” Mr Bo said.
There had long been rumours in Chongqing that the previously close bond between Mr Bo and Wang was shattered when they became tangled in a love triangle.
But the allegations by Mr Bo raise new and intriguing questions about the planning of, and the motive for, the murder of Neil Heywood. Wang had previously confessed that he helped Gu plan Mr Heywood’s killing.
Mr Bo’s tale of mad passion caused an instant sensation on the Chinese internet, with one popular post suggesting that the lovers were doomed from the start: Gu was a Scorpio while Wang was a Capricorn and therefore incompatible.
Before revealing the drama in his household, Mr Bo had earlier ridiculed the prosecution’s closing statement, saying: “Even the lowest level television soap cannot have this kind of plot,” he said.
Responding to accusations that he must have been aware of the luxurious lifestyle his family was living, under his nose, Mr Bo asked: “Is Gu Kailai a civilised woman or not?
“Did she want me to love her or not? Would she have come and bothered me with these trifles every day? I was the governor of Liaoning province,” he added.
To accusations that his 25-year-old son, Guagua, spent huge sums travelling the world and carousing, Mr Bo said: “If Guagua kept asking for money for fancy watches and cars and international travel, if he wanted us to pay for his friends and owed the bank huge sums of money, would I have loved such a son?”.
Instead, Mr Bo said, his family was so frugal that he was still wore padded winter trousers that his mother had bought for him in the 1960s.
Mr Bo also repeated that much of the evidence against him had been coerced.
“All of the written confessions I signed before were made against my will,” he said, adding that he had hoped, by confessing, to win rehabilitation.
“I had a hope deep in my heart that I would not be expelled from the Party, I would keep membership and I would keep my political life.”
It was unclear whether Mr Bo’s impressive rhetoric would win him more public support, with hundreds of thousands of people reading his statement on the live-feed from court.
But it did little to help his legal case, and his lawyers even admitted that it was only after 2005, when Mr Bo was promoted to higher office, that corruption had stopped. “He woke up,” they said.
Mr Bo’s defiance may also cost him dearly, in the form of a tougher sentence.
“He not only denied crimes that have been fully backed up with solid evidence, but he also recanted his earlier testimony,” the prosecutors said. “His attitude is to refuse to confess wrongdoing… he should receive harsh punishment.”
If convicted, Mr Bo technically faces the death penalty, although a member of China’s Communist Politburo has never been executed.
As he made his final statement, perhaps the last statement he will ever make in public, Mr Bo said: “I know I am not a perfect man, I am subjective and easily angered. I have made some serious mistakes and problems. I failed to manage my family.”
The court will reconvene at a later date to reveal the verdict.
– Contributed by Malcolm Moore, Jinan Telegraph UK