Former Politburo member and Chongqing city party leader Bo Xilai speaks… (CCTV )
BEIJING -– Bo Xilai, at one time the most potent challenger to the current Chinese Communist Party leadership, was sentenced Sunday to life in prison for corruption.
The 64-year-old Bo, who had been the party secretary in Chongqing, has vowed to appeal the conviction and sentence on charges of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power.
“I will wait quietly in the prison,” Bo wrote in a letter to family members that was published by overseas Chinese media. “My father was jailed many times. I will follow his footsteps."
The trial took place in Jinan, the capital of Shandong province and a city considered politically loyal to the Communist Party. Before the trial started, Chinese state television announced that it would be wrapped up in two days, but Bo mounted a vigorous defense, recanting earlier confessions, shredding the evidence against him and embarrassing the prosecution.
Bo was charged with receiving bribes of about $4 million from businessmen in Dalian, where he previously had been mayor, of embezzling public funds and of covering up the killing by his wife of an English expatriate, Neil Heywood, with whom she had a business dispute. His wife, Gu Kailai, who issued written and taped testimony against him, is serving a suspended death sentence for poisoning Heywood.
In court, Bo argued that he did not know about businessmen’s gifts to his family, the largest of which was a $3.3-million villa on the French Riviera, blaming the entire scheme on his wife and his son.
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