The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Ousted Chinese politician blames wife in taking govt money, says he had affair

  • Print

JINAN, China - Disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai told a court Saturday his wife stole government funds without his involvement and revealed how the couple became estranged after he had been unfaithful, offering a glimpse in his politically charged trial of the unraveling of one of China's elite families.

Bo also mocked as implausible a former city official's testimony that Bo had facilitated the embezzlement of 5 million yuan ($800,000) with a phone call to his wife, while expressing remorse that he had not acted to stop the misconduct.

"I am ashamed of it. I was too careless, because this is public money," Bo told the Jinan Intermediate People's Court. "I failed to retrieve the money later, and that's a factual statement, but can you say I had the intention to embezzle the money? No."

The ruling Communist Party is using the trial against Bo, a former Politburo member and party leader of the megacity of Chongqing, to cap a messy political scandal unleashed by suspicions that his wife killed a British businessman.

That scandal led to Bo's political ouster, cemented by criminal charges of interfering with a murder investigation and netting $4.3 million through corruption. Courts in China are controlled by the Communist Party so a conviction is expected, but Bo has mounted an unexpectedly spirited defence.

The court's release of trial proceedings are in sharp contrast with the August 2012 conviction of Gu in the murder of a British businessman, when she pleaded guilty in daylong proceedings and scant details were released.

Bo's trial had been expected to be similarly swift, but observers say giving him a chance to defend himself helps lend a veneer of legitimacy to what is widely seen as a political show trial. The trial has focused attention on Bo's alleged economic and official misdeeds and avoided discussing the threat he posed to China's leadership in his pursuit of a seat in China's apex of power ahead of last year's leadership transition.

"The leadership wants to have a trial that's seen as fair. You can't have a completely secret trial in today's China, it would be an embarrassment," said Brookings Institution scholar Cheng Li. "Bo Xilai is taking advantage of that trial to continue to perform as he did before."

Authorities remained on high alert for any unrest that might be triggered by the trial, closely guarding a security perimeter that expanded several miles around the court Saturday, with main roads in the vicinity sealed and many shops and restaurants shut.

Inside the courtroom, Bo questioned the testimonies of his wife Gu Kailai and others that prosecutors presented, that in 2000 he had told Gu to take the government funds to cover the expenses of accompanying their son in Britain while he attended middle school. Bo said that Gu had piles of her own money, and that she had taken their son overseas in a fit of rage after he had been unfaithful.

"She left after giving me only the courtesy of a notification," Bo said. "At the time, I had had an affair, and she was very angry. She took Bo Guagua away, largely because she felt wronged and was acting rashly."

It was the third day of a trial that in which Bo had earlier similarly dismissed testimony from his wife, saying she was "crazy," He said Gu, a convicted killer serving a suspended death sentence, could be seeking a more lenient jail term by denouncing him.

Bo similarly questioned the testimony of Wang Zhenggang, who was then an official with a land planning department in Dalian, where Bo was party boss at the time. Wang had testified that Bo made a call to his wife in front of him and explicitly said he was going to funnel 5 million yuan ($800,000) in funds from a government project to their family, an account Bo called implausible.

"Is this in line with the way an embezzler would think?" Bo said of the account of the alleged event that took place 13 years ago in Dalian. "Would I say something this sensitive on the phone?"

Prosecutors have also charged that he accepted bribes from businessmen in the form of money or gifts to his family — including a villa in Nice, France, and plane tickets to three continents — in exchange for political favours.

The charges of bribery and embezzlement, based on the indictment's specified monetary amounts, carry penalties of between 10 years and life imprisonment, or death in severe cases, while the abuse of power charge could result in up to 7 years' imprisonment.

The trial on Saturday also began hearing allegations that Bo interfered in the investigation of the murder of a British businessman, for which Gu was convicted of in August 2012, and of the events surrounding his top aide's attempted defection at a U.S. consulate.

Courtroom revelations by the prosecution have laid bare the way that shady ties between powerful officials and businessmen can play out in China. Part of the couple's influence comes from their pedigree as the children of revolutionary veterans, a status that gives them access to important political and business networks.

__

Associated Press writer Didi Tang in Beijing contributed to this report.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Family of Matias De Antonio speaks outside Law Courts

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A nesting goose sits on the roof of GoodLife Fitness at 143 Nature Way near Kenaston as the morning sun comes up Wednesday morning- See Bryksa’s Goose a Day Photo- Day 07- Web crop-May 09, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press.  Local/Standup- Morning Fog. Horse prances in field by McPhillips Road, north of Winnipeg. 060605.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you agree with the province’s crackdown on flavoured tobacco products?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google