Dead end trail to Bo Xilai trial in China's south
Reuters and AFPBEIJING/GUIYANG, China -- China scotched reports that disgraced politician Bo Xilai's much anticipated trial would open on Monday, amid chaotic scenes at a courthouse packed with expectant journalists in the south of the country.
January 29, 2013, 12:38 am TWN
A report last week in a Beijing-backed Hong Kong newspaper prompted dozens of reporters to travel to the sleepy city of Guiyang expecting to cover the trial of the man who was once considered a contender for China's top leadership. The paper has been known to reliably report news Chinese state media won't touch.
Flummoxed, local court officials held a hasty and unusual press conference to deny a trial was in the offing and pleaded for the media to leave them alone.
Almost a year after Bo's fall from grace under a cloud of lurid accusations about corruption, abuse of power and murder, the government has given no definitive timeframe for when Bo will face the courts, or even announced formal charges.
“To date, the Intermediate People's Court of Guiyang has received no information whatsoever about the trial of Bo Xilai taking place in Guiyang,” said Jiang Hao, deputy head of the Guiyang court.
“If the next step is to hold the Bo Xilai trial in Guiyang's court, then, as according to rules, we will inform our media friends promptly,” Jiang told about 30 reporters crammed into a small room inside the court.
Bo was ousted from his post as Communist Party chief in the southwestern city of Chongqing last year following his wife's murder of a British businessman, Neil Heywood.
Bo, 63, was widely tipped to be promoted to the party's elite inner core before his career unraveled. The downfall came after his former police chief, Wang Lijun, fled briefly to a U.S. consulate for last February and alleged that Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, had murdered
Heywood with poison.
Gu and Wang have both since been convicted and jailed.
No criminal charges against Bo have yet been revealed, only accusations from the party of corruption and of bending the law to hush up Heywood's killing.
Bo was last seen in public last March and is being held in custody, though there has been no word on his whereabouts and he has not been allowed to defend himself in public.
Trial in March: State Media
State media added to the confusion over the weekend when several Chinese news sites picked up verbatim the original report in the Hong Kong newspaper the Ta Kung Pao that the trial was scheduled for Monday.
Further stirring the pot, the influential tabloid the Global Times, published by the Communist Party's official People's Daily, said on Monday the trial would likely not be held until after the Chinese parliament's annual session in March.
The Global Times, citing “a source close to the country's top judicial body,” said the trial would not take place until after China's annual legislative meeting in March.
“The information in terms of the date and location for the trial will certainly be made public in advance,” the source told the state-run newspaper, adding that the trial “might be very complicated and last up to 10 days.”
The “complexity” meant the trial would not be heard until after the sessions of China's rubber-stamp parliament, the National People's Congress, and advisory body, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the source added.