Bo Xilai may get life imprisonment or suspended death penalty: Beijing lawyer

Bo Xilai Photo: AP

The current charges against Bo Xilai are enough to put him in prison, and he may get life imprisonment or a suspended death sentence, Shang Baojun, a lawyer from Beijing Mo Shaoping Law Office, who has insight into politically sensitive cases, predicted in an interview with the China Press.

Bo’s trial will begin on Thursday in Jinan, eastern China’s Shandong province.

Shang said that the amount of bribes and state funds Bo allegedly accepted and embezzled has exceeded the amount set by a clause of the Chinese Criminal Law, which stipulates someone taking 100,000 yuan or more in bribes will be sentenced to more than 10 years in prison or even to death. Bo is accused of taking 20 million yuan in bribes and embezzling 5 million yuan of state funds.

However, the vast majority of Chinese citizens believe that Bo will be exempted from a death penalty, with a widely held view that the verdict of his trial may already have been decided due to the Chinese Communist Party’s strong grip on judicial power.

Following Chen Xitong, former Party secretary of Beijing, and Chen Liangyu, former Shanghai Party boss, who fell from power due to violating Party discipline, Bo, who was once a Politburo member, is the third municipal Party secretary to be probed by judicial department.

“The Chinese Communist Party administers the four key areas of military, publicity, organization and judiciary, which can be supported by China’s constitution and the party constitution. Therefore, we cannot simply say that the handling of Bo’s case goes against the principle of judicial justice,” Shang told China Press.

Unlike the downfall of former railway minister Liu Zhijun, which was caused by the Communist Party’s anti-graft drive, Bo’s fall from power stems from his estrangement with Chongqing’s ex-police chief Wang Lijun, who briefly fled to the US consulate in Chengdu in February 2012, where he revealed the details about Bo’s alleged crimes, said Shang.

Shang pointed out that Bo’s defiance of constitutionalism and laws during his rein in Chongqing led to his downfall.

Despite an attempt to reverse the verdict of the court, Bo may well plead guilty because the charges of bribery, corruption and abuse of power are just the tip of the iceberg, predicted Shang.

As for Bo’s overseas assets, the authorities have turned a blind eye, Shang added.

Bo’s case is sending a warning signal to the imperious local government officials and triggering public reflection on unchecked accumulation of personal power.

(The article is translated and edited by Ding Yi)

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