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Xinhua Insight: Details of Bo Xilai's trial

08-28-2013 01:09 BJT

BEIJING, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- The trial of Bo Xilai, charged with bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power, concluded Monday at Jinan Intermediate People's Court, after hearings from Aug. 22 to Aug. 26.

The verdict will be announced at a date yet to be decided.

At the trial, prosecutors demanded a heavy sentence for Bo while the defendant denied the charges.

In his final statement, Bo said he made serious errors of judgement when handling the defection of Wang Lijun, former vice mayor and police chief of Chongqing.

"Wang's defection caused vile impacts at home and abroad and undermined the image of the Party and country," he said. "I am deeply ashamed and filled with regret, but I did not intend to misuse my power."

He also denied the bribery and embezzlement charges against him. "The charges are not true. My mistake, which was serious, was that I did not discipline my family and subordinates."

"I know I am not a perfect person. I had a strong ego and bad temper. I made serious mistakes," he said. "I sincerely admit that my failure to manage my family had a negative effect on the country."

"I sincerely accept the investigation from the party and the judicial departments," he said.

Over the past 16 months, the staffers who took charge of his case took care of his life, he said.

"They talked with me in a civilized way and most of them were professional, though of course, I have been under pressure during the process," he said.

"During the trial, both prosecution and defense sides had opportunities to fully express their opinions. Also, the court released trial transcripts through microblog. All of these have made me more confident of the future of China's judicial system," he said.

Bo's trial began on the morning of Aug. 22 in the largest courtroom of Jinan Intermediate People's Court.

More than 100 people, including Bo's family and relatives, deputies to people's congresses, political advisors, ordinary citizens and journalists observed the trial.

The moment after Bo, escorted by marshals, walked into the defendant's seat, he stopped and turned around, casting a glance at the observers' seats.

Bo, 64, is former secretary of the Chongqing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and a former member of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau.

Bo's resume also includes the mayor and party chief of Dalian in northeast China's Liaoning Province, member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Liaoning Provincial Committee and deputy secretary, governor of Liaoning and minister of commerce.

On April 10, 2012, Bo was suspended from the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau and the CPC Central Committee, on suspicion of serious discipline violations and the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the CPC filed a case for investigation.

On Sept. 28 last year, the CPC Central Committee expelled Bo from the CPC, removed him from public office and transferred his case to the judiciary.

On the same day, the Standing Committee of Chongqing Municipal People's Congress removed him from his post as deputy to the National People's Congress. The Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP) opened an investigation and decided to arrest him.

The SPP passed the case to Jinan People's Procuratorate to prepare for prosecution on charges of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power on April 10, 2013.

Jinan People's Procuratorate instituted a public prosecution against Bo on July 25 on the three charges.

The court investigation began when the presiding judge informed all parties of their litigation rights at 9:10 a.m. on Aug.22.

Yang Zengsheng, vice president of Jinan People's Procuratorate, and three others served as prosecutors in court. Yang read the indictment.

According to the indictment, Bo accepted bribes worth about 21.8 million yuan (about 3.5 million U.S. dollars) directly or jointly with others.

"The amount was especially huge," the indictment said.

Bo was accused of conspiring to embezzle five million yuan of public funds."The sum was huge," the indictment said.

Bo abused his power, causing major losses to the interests of the state and people. The circumstances are especially serious, according to the indictment.

According to the prosecution, Bo's conduct violated Clause 1 of Article 385, Article 386, Clause 1 of Article 382, the first entry of Clause 1 and Clause 2 of Article 383, and Clause 1 of Article 397 of the Criminal Law of the People's Republic of China and he should be held criminally responsible for the three charges and be punished accordingly.

The prosecutors pointed out that the charges were filed on the basis of a large body of factual evidence.

During the trial, the defendant gave a statement on the facts regarding his alleged offenses and denied all charges.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers questioned the accused.

Witnesses Xu Ming, chairman of Dalian Shide Group Co. Ltd., Wang Zhenggang, then director of the Dalian municipal bureau of urban and rural planning and land, and Wang Lijun, former vice mayor of Chongqing, appeared to testify in court.

Both the prosecution and defense cross examined the witnesses.

Prosecutors played video recordings of Bo's wife Bogu Kailai and Tang Xiaolin, general manager of Dalian International Development Co. Ltd., and presented evidence including documents and audio-video materials, witness' testimony, and the confession and arguments of the defendant.

Prosecutors said the defendant failed to provide evidence that could help refute the facts regarding his charges and expressed numerous conflicting statements during his defense.

The court approved all applications by Bo and his lawyers to speak, guaranteeing them enough time to express their views.

During the trial, Bo expressed his gratitude to the presiding judge for being fair, saying the trial had proceeded in a humane and civilized manner.

When the investigation phase was complete, and with the consent of the presiding judge, the prosecution and defense debated the facts, evidence and charges.

Both sides expressed views on facts, evidence and law on which judgment of guilt and measurement of punishment would rely.

Jinan People's Procuratorate pointed out in its summary of the case that during the trial, Bo not only denied the evidence, but overturned his handwritten confession.

On the charge of abuse of power, Bo admitted mistakes and responsibility, but did not admit the charge and refused to plead guilty.

Prosecutors stressed that the facts of the crimes are objective and will not be altered by the defendant's own will. The fact are based on evidence, not the defendant's testimony.

Although the country's legal system has a principle of tempering justice with mercy, a heavy sentence in line with the law should be handed to Bo, as he committed very serious crimes and refused to plead guilty. Considering that the accused did not turn himself in or disclose another person's crimes, he is not subject to any terms of leniency by law," prosecutors said.

BO SUSPECTED OF TAKING BRIBES

Bo was charged with taking bribes based on the following evidence: from 1999 to 2006, Bo took advantage of his position to seek benefits for others; from 2000 to 2012, Bo accepted cash and property worth about 21.8 million yuan (about 3.5 million U.S. dollars) from others, or through his wife Bogu Kailai (handled in a separate case) and his son Bo Guagua.

According to the indictment, from 2000 to 2002, at the request of Tang Xiaolin (handled in a separate case), general manager of Dalian International Development Co. Ltd, Bo helped Tang's company take over the Dalian City liaison office in Shenzhen and then used the office's land for development projects. Bo also helped Tang obtain preferential quotas to import cars. Bo took advantage of his posts as mayor of Dalian, secretary of the Communist Party of China Dalian committee, and governor of Liaoning Province in doing so. From the second half of 2002 to the second half of 2005, Bo for three times accepted money offered by Tang, which totaled 1.1 million yuan.

Evidence presented by the prosecutors, including five verbal testimonies and four handwritten testimonies from Tang, video recordings of Tang collected on May 31, 2013, demonstrated how Tang showed his gratitude to Bo after he harvested profits through the land project in Shenzhen and imported cars.

The source of the bribes, the process of bribery and the use of the bribes have been corroborated by the testimonies of multiple witnesses and documentary evidence presented to the court.

Bo denied that Tang had bribed him, claiming that what Tang had asked of him was official business according to official principles.

In Bo's handwritten testimony he admitted that Tang had paid him a total of 130,000 U.S. dollars and 50,000 yuan. Tang made the first payment to Bo in 2002 at Bo's home in Shenyang. Tang gave Bo 50,000 U.S. dollars. Bo's son was studying abroad and the money was to cover his living expenses. In 2004, when Bo was at the Ministry of Commerce, Tang bribed him again, this time with 50,000 yuan at his office, to "purchase some stationery." Bo took the money home. In 2005, Tang bribed Bo for the third time at Bo's office in Beijing with 80,000 U.S. dollars, saying that the money was for Bo's wife and son, again to cover living expenses abroad, and the money was to express an old friend's goodwill. The money was taken home by Bo and kept in a safe in his study.

Bo Xilai and his defense team asserted that his handwritten confession was contrary to Bo's convictions and untruthful. They said the confession should be excluded as illegal.

Bo claimed to have been under pressure when writing the confession, which should justify his demand to exclude it. According to prosecutors, Bo wrote the confession alone and nobody was present at the time.

Aside from the handwritten confession, the defendant had admitted accepting Tang Xiaolin's bribes in a verbal confession during the investigation. The defendant failed to give a reasonable cause to retract his testimony. Bo's defense was self-contradictory and his previous confessions should be tabled as evidence.

In response to Bo's claim of doing official business according to official principles, prosecutors said that anyone who made a profit in a power-for-money deal committed the crime of bribery, regardless of the legitimacy of the profits or whether the profits were reaped in official business.

According to the indictment, from 1999 to 2006, the defendant Bo Xilai, under the request of Xu Ming, chairman of Dalian Shide Group Co. Ltd., took advantage of his position and granted Xu favors in some projects.

The favors included helping Xu with his company's acquisition of the Dalian Wanda Football Club, construction of a sightseeing hot air balloon in the shape of a football, a bid for the Shuangdaowan petrochemical project in Dalian, and being listed by the Ministry of Commerce as a private importer of crude oil and oil products.

From 2001 to 2012, Bo Xilai repeatedly accepted large sums of money from Xu Ming through his wife, Bogu Kailai, and his son, Bo Guagua.

The court's investigation showed that on July 9, 2001, Bogu Kailai, bought a villa in Nice of France worth over 2.3 million euros (16.25 million yuan) with funds provided by Xu Ming.

Evidence presented by prosecutors showed a three-storey villa with a garden, swimming pool and garage, covering 3,950 square meters, the size of half a football field.

Evidence also showed that Bogu Kailai and her friend, French architect Patrick Devillers, carefully orchestrated a legally intricate purchasing plan where the villa was bought under the name of several companies rather than Bo's family.

The plan, called by Devillers a "montage", covered Bogu Kailai and her family's ownership of overseas real estate, and lowered transaction taxes and fees, through registering multiple companies overseas and taking advantage of their complicated shareholder mix.

Bo's wife explained in her testimony that she wanted to conceal the purchase of her overseas property, for the fear of getting her family involved, or affecting Bo's political career.

The procuratorate, after combing through numerous pieces of written and verbal evidence, distilled a "roadmap" behind the "montage": Xu Ming's offer of funds, purchase of the villa under the name of companies, Bogu Kailai's real control over the villa, and Bo Xilai's knowing of the matter.

Xu Ming's testimony corroborated Bogu Kailai's testimony.

According to Xu, when Bogu Kailai told him she wanted to buy the villa, he immediately pledged funds.

Xu said, he made the offer to curry favor with Bogu Kailai and Bo so that Bo would return an even bigger favor in the future. Financial documents verified that Xu Ming was the provider of the funds.

Evidence showed that Bogu Kailai and her friends registered three companies overseas and involved at least four other foreign companies and one foreign bank in the purchase plan.

The first company they registered was owned 50/50 between Bogu Kailai and Devillers, to abide by local laws which required a company to start with at least two shareholders. However, Devillers' share was simply held by him in Bogu Kailai's place.

Devillers said in his written testimony that he did not invest anything in the company, and Bogu Kailai was the real shareholder.

Bogu Kailai repeatedly admitted, "the villa has all along been my asset, and I am the villa's owner."

Bo Xilai said he believed the massive evidence only proved his wife's acquisition of the villa, and denied having anything to do with the villa,claiming absolute ignorance of the property purchase in Nice.

Witness testimony showed that Bo was well aware of the purchase by Xu Ming for his family.

During the trial, prosecutors played video-audio materials recorded on Bogu Kailai, while she was questioned on Aug. 10. A digital slideshow of the Villa Fontaine Saint Georges, made by Bogu herself and acquired from her home computer after prosecutors searched her house was also played in court.

Bogu Kailai said, "I took a lot of pictures of the villa after it was purchased. I designed two slideshows of the villa. The slideshow was accompanied by English poems and music, with pictures switched in every three seconds.

"I brought the slideshow back to my Shenyang home, and played it to Xu Ming when he was at my house. At the time, Guagua's dad (Bo) was home from work and we watched the slideshow together. Xu praised me by saying that I had a talent for this, and Guagua's dad joked by saying that I quite understood arts and I was an artist. I took the initiative to tell him that I let Xu purchase a house in France, as a safe investment, which will be given to Guagua, and by leasing the villa a stable income can be gained. When I said these words, Xu was there."

Xu Ming confirmed that he, Bo and Bogu Kailai had sat together in Bo's home watching the slideshow, and that Bogu clearly explained to Bo that she had asked Xu to buy the villa so that Bo Guagua would have a stable income.

Xu recalled, "Later, we chatted for a while before I left, but I cannot remember clearly what we said at the time. The whole story just happened like this."

Bogu Kailai said, "Bo Xilai asked me whether it was safe to do this. I assured Guagua's dad by telling him that the purchase was very complicated. [The villa] had not been purchased under our name. It was quite safe."

Prosecutors presented testimony from Xu Ming, which confirmed that Bo was aware of the purchase of the villa.

Xu's testimony states, "In July 2004, Bogu Kailai said the property purchase procedures had been completed and Bo Xilai would call me soon about the matter. Later, Bo himself called me and asked me to go to the Ministry of Commerce to find him. During our face-to-face talk, Bo said [the property] must be kept secret strictly, and he said 'he did not know anything about the property at any time.' I said I understood."

Bo said in court, "The evidence related to the property is like a huge ball, and only a thread on the ball can prove I had something to do with the villa. The thread refers to the scenario in which the slideshow was played in my Shenyang home. However, such a scenario did not take place, and the testimonies of Bogu Kailai and Xu Ming are false."

Prosecutors pointed out that, on one hand, Bo claimed that he was seeing the slideshow in court for the first time, but the other, he said he had a vague impression that he had seen it at his home: Bo alleges that Xu Ming was a friend of Bogu Kailai, but not his friend. He cannot explain why Xu owned a vehicle pass for the Ministry of Commerce.

During cross-examination, Bo did not deny basic details like "the three watching the slideshow together" and "setting up an alliance to keep the property secret at the commerce ministry," which was confirmed by Xu.

Bo's many allegations had nothing to do with the facts and evidence. The allegations were merely his explanation of facts, which cannot be proved as he cannot present any evidence. Bo's arguments were either self-contradictory or weak.

The defense lawyers questioned the legality of the evidence, the authenticity of witness testimonies, and the ownership of the property in France. Prosecutors responded to them one by one.

 

Editor:Bai Yang |Source: Xinhua

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