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China implicates Bo Xilai for first time in criminal case

  • Former police chief Wang Lijun speaks during a court hearing in Chengdu in this file still image taken from video on September 18, 2012. REUTERS/CCTV via Reuters TV/reuters

BEIJING:China implicated for the first time on Wednesday former senior politician Bo Xilai in a criminal act, in a published account by state media of the trial of his one-time police chief.

Wang Lijun, ex-police chief of southwestern Chongqing city, tried to tell "the Chongqing party committee's main responsible person at the time" - in other words, then-Chongqing Communist Party boss Bo - that Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, was suspected of murdering a British businessman.

But Wang was "angrily rebuked and had his ears boxed", according to Xinhua news agency's official account of Wang's trial this week in Chengdu city, near Chongqing.

The virtually unmistakable reference to Bo increases the chances of him facing criminal charges, possibly for covering up a crime.

So far, Bo has only been accused of breaching internal party discipline.

The Bo scandal has rocked Beijing, exposing rifts within the ruling Communist Party - elements of which are strong supporters of Bo's populist, left-leaning policies - at a time when China is preparing for a once-in-a-decade leadership change.

Wang, 52, lifted the lid on the murder and cover-up of British businessman Neil Heywood in February when he went to a U.S. consulate in Chengdu and, according to sources, told envoys there about the murder that would later bring down Bo.

Within two months of Wang's 24-hour visit to the consulate, Bo was sacked as party boss and from the Communist Party's Politburo and Bo's wife Gu was accused of poisoning the businessman.

Gu has since been given a suspended death sentence for the killing in late 2011.

 
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