Bo Xilai to appeal life sentence

Updated: 2013-10-10 00:32

By An Baijie (China Daily)

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Bo Xilai, the former Chongqing Party chief, is to appeal his life sentence for corruption, Shandong Provincial High People's Court announced on Wednesday.

The appeal was submitted to the court on Sept 22 and has been accepted, the court said in an online statement.

According to Chinese law, the hearing will be the 64-year-old's final appeal.

The court did not say whether the hearing will be open to the public.

Bo, also a former member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, stood trial from Aug 22 to 26 at Jinan Intermediate People's Court in Shandong province.

He was sentenced to life for bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power, and was deprived of his political rights for life. His private assets were also confiscated.

According to the Jinan court, Bo received bribes of 20.44 million yuan ($3.34 million) personally or through his wife, Bogu Kailai, and their son, Bo Guagua, from 1999 to 2012.

The court also said Bo embezzled 5 million yuan from a government project in 2002. The money was transferred to a bank account belonging to his wife, of which Bo was aware.

He also abused his power while Chongqing police were probing a murder case, in which his wife killed British citizen Neil Heywood in November 2011, and removed Chongqing police chief, Wang Lijun, from his post, which led to Wang fleeing to the US consulate in Chengdu last year, the court said.

Bo denied all accusations during the trial, but the court said the evidence was solid and Bo had admitted some charges during questioning.

Records of the trial and the verdict were released through the court's micro blog each day, a move the court said was to boost transparency.

Chen Guangzhong, a professor at the China University of Political Science and Law, said the court gave both prosecutors and the defendant an equal chance to express their opinions during the trial.

The verdict will stand the test of history and law since it was based on the facts, Chen said.

Wang Minyuan, a law professor with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Bo's case is likely to finish this year.

"The court of second instance should conclude the case in two months after it accepted the appeal, but it can be extended for another two months under special circumstances with approval from the Supreme People's Court," he said.

According to the Criminal Procedure Law, Bo was allowed to appeal within 10 days after he received the ruling from the first-instance court. The court of first instance, which is Jinan Intermediate People's Court, should transfer his request and all materials to the court of a higher level, Shandong High People's Court.

"The right to appeal is under strict protection in China. But the second-instance court ruling will be the final judgment for him."

Wang said although it is still unknown on what grounds Bo has appealed, the second-instance court is required to comprehensively look into the facts confirmed by the first-instance court as well as the law being used to support its ruling.

"In any case, the final ruling will not be heavier than the current one," he said.

Zhao Yinan contributed to this story.