BEIJING – China for the first time today implicated former senior politician Bo Xilai in a criminal act while avoiding naming him directly in a published account by state media of the trial of his one-time police chief.
The Bo scandal has rocked Beijing, exposing rifts within the ruling Communist Party – elements of which are strong supporters of Bo’s populist, left-leaning policies – at a time when China is preparing for a once-in-a-decade leadership change.
Wang Lijun, ex-police chief of southwestern Chongqing city, tried to tell “the Chongqing party committee’s main responsible person at the time” – in other words, then-Chongqing Communist Party boss Bo – that Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, was suspected of murdering a British businessman.
But Wang was “angrily rebuked and had his ears boxed”, according to Xinhua news agency’s official account of Wang’s trial this week in Chengdu city, near Chongqing.
The virtually unmistakable reference to Bo increases the chances of him facing criminal charges, possibly for covering up a crime or corruption.
So far, Bo has only been accused of breaching internal party discipline. He has not responded publicly to the allegations against him.
Wang, 52, lifted the lid on the murder and cover-up of British businessman Neil Heywood in February when he went to the U.S. consulate in Chengdu and, according to sources, told envoys there about the murder that would later bring down Bo.
Within two months of Wang’s 24-hour visit to the consulate, Bo was sacked as party boss and from the Communist Party’s Politburo and Bo’s wife Gu was accused of poisoning the businessman.
A court has since given Gu a suspended death sentence for the killing in late 2011.
Xinhua said that the day after Gu had poisoned Heywood in a Chongqing hotel, Wang met her and she acknowledged that she had killed him. Wang secretly recorded that conversation, but did not act on Gu’s admission. (Reuters)