China’s Bo Xilai, the one-time Communist Party chief of Chongqing who is accused of bribery, corruption and abuse of power, will go on trial this week in the culmination of a case that has highlighted wrongdoing in the top rungs of the country’s political ranks.
Bo, who was indicted last month, was a rising star among China’s political elite until his wife, Gu Kailai, was connected to the murder of a British businessman. His trial is expected to begin on Thursday.
The New York Times notes that Bo’s fall from grace “[set off] reverberations still felt in Chinese politics.”
“Accusations of skullduggery and corruption around him and his family have drawn the attention of the Chinese people, and his trial is considered a test of how harshly and candidly the Communist Party elite deals with one of its own.
‘Politics will determine how Bo Xilai is tried,’ said Chen Ziming, a commentator in Beijing who closely follows Communist Party affairs. ‘How much evidence they present will depend on how severely they want to punish him, not vice versa.’
China’s courts are controlled by the Communist Party, and there is little doubt that Mr. Bo will be found guilty. But experts have offered competing views about the likely severity of the punishment. A death penalty appears very unlikely, but a prison sentence of 15 years or longer is almost certain, Mr. Chen said.
‘The central leadership will have weighed up the various pressures — for Bo, against Bo — and come to a decision,” he said. “It’s not a decision for the court.'”