I was framed, says China's Bo, mounting feisty defense
By John Ruwitch ,ReutersJINAN, China -- Fallen politician Bo Xilai put up a feisty defense on Thursday as he faced China's most political trial in decades, saying he was framed in bribery charges against him and had admitted to them under psychological pressure during interrogation.
August 23, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
The 64-year-old former Communist Party chief of the southwestern city of Chongqing has been charged with illegally taking almost 27 million yuan (US$4.41 million), corruption and abuse of power and will almost certainly be found guilty.
Bo's denial of the charges and strong language as he made his first public appearance since being ousted early last year were unexpected. But observers said he could have agreed to choreographed proceedings that would show authorities in an impartial light in exchange for a prearranged sentence.
President Xi Jinping is seeking unstinted support from the party as he seeks to push reforms that will rebalance the economy, and will want Bo's trial to be finished quickly and with a minimum of fuss.
“He (Bo) is clearly going along with this trial,” said Nicholas Bequelin, a researcher for New York-based Human Rights Watch. “The outcome has been already decided. There's probably an agreement already between Bo and the party as to what the outcome will be.”
Bo's downfall has pitted supporters of his Maoist-themed egalitarian social programs against the capitalist-leaning economic road taken by the leadership in Beijing, exposing divisions within the ruling party as well as Chinese society.
Bo was one of China's rising political stars and his trial in the eastern city of Jinan marks the culmination of the country's biggest political scandal since the 1976 downfall of the Gang of Four at the end of the Cultural Revolution.
Television pictures showed a somber-looking, clean-shaven Bo, whose hair looked like it was still dyed black, in the dock without handcuffs. He was wearing a long-sleeved white shirt and stood with his hands crossed in front of him, flanked by two policemen.
Foreign media were not allowed to attend the trial and Bo's remarks were carried on the court's official microblog, so are likely to have been edited. Still, the transcripts provided by the court mark a level of openness that is unprecedented for a trial in China.
“Regarding the matter of Tang Xiaolin giving me money three times, I once admitted it against my will during the Central Discipline Inspection Commission's investigation against me,” Bo said, referring to the party's top anti-graft body.
“(I'm) willing to bear the legal responsibilities, but at that time I did not know the circumstances of these matters: my mind was a blank,” he added.