BEIJING — China will put the ex-police chief at the heart of its biggest political scandal in decades on trial for crimes including defection and taking bribes, state media said today, opening a new phase in a case that rattled the Communist Party succession.
Wang Lijun fled to a US consulate in southwestern China in February, days after his dismissal as police chief of Chongqing, the nearby municipality then run by the ambitious politician Bo Xilai who had raised Wang to prominence as a crime gang-buster.
The official Xinhua news agency appeared to end rumours that Wang could be treated lightly for exposing Bo’s misdeeds while inside the consulate, and it laid out the four charges against Wang – defection, taking bribes, bending the law for selfish ends and abusing power.
The Xinhua account indicated that Wang had initially gone along with the attempted cover-up of the murder in November of a British businessman, Neil Heywood, by Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai.
Wang “consciously neglected his duty and bent the law for personal gain so that Bogu Kailai would not be held legally responsible,” said Xinhua, citing the prosecutor’s indictment.
Bogu is Gu Kailai’s official but rarely used surname.
The report did not say whether Wang intended to contest any of the charges. But China’s courts rarely find in favour of defendants.
The announcement came during a tense political season for the ruling Communist Party, which is preparing for a once-in-a-decade leadership succession that will see the retirement of President Hu Jintao at a congress in coming weeks or months. (Reuters)