Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Stage set for show trial of fallen Chongqing party chief Bo

Fall of a high-flyer: Police close ranks around the courthouse where  disgraced politician Bo Xilai will go on trial.

Fall of a high-flyer: Police close ranks around the courthouse where disgraced politician Bo Xilai will go on trial. Photo: AFP

Security has been tightened around the courthouse that will see the orchestrated public downfall of one of China's most polarising politicians, Bo Xilai.

Dozens of police circled the Jinan court precinct, in east China's Shandong province, on the eve of Thursday's trial but the only sign of dissent was an early morning demonstration by a small clutch of Mr Bo's supporters. In an unexpected move, there was speculation that Chinese authorities may have arranged for a video stream of the trial to be beamed into a nearby hotel auditorium for hundreds of journalists.

Journalists are not expected to be allowed into the courtroom.

Bo Xilai: In a landmark move the trial of ousted politician will be televised live to reporters in eastern China.

Bo Xilai: In a landmark move the trial of ousted politician will be televised live to reporters in eastern China. Photo: Reuters

The broadcast is seen as a further sign that Mr Bo has agreed to fully co-operate, to receive a lighter sentence and protect his son Bo Guagua and other family members from repercussions.

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''The stage is already set, they are now very confident everything is completely under control,'' said political analyst Chen Ziming.

''They need Bo to stage a show so [his supporters] will be delivered a psychological blow and shut up for good,'' Mr Chen said.

Mr Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, and his former police chief, Wang Lijun, have been jailed over the scandal stemming from the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood in Chongqing, where Mr Bo was party secretary.

Mo Shaoping, a prominent rights lawyer who represented Nobel peace prize winner Liu Xiaobo, said the decision to broadcast the trial only showed how tightly the central government controlled the outcome.

''This case isn't for the judge to decide,'' he said. ''Let me be blunt - even the time that the trial starts in the morning is not for the judge to decide.

''I don't rule out that even [Mr Bo's] defence testimony has been vetted and pre-approved by authorities. He will only read it word for word.''

Speculation remains rife over whether Mr Bo's wife and his former police chief will appear to give evidence against him.

In a statement to the New York Times on Monday, Bo Guagua said he had not been in contact with his father for 18 months but that ''if my wellbeing has been bartered for my father's acquiescence or my mother's further co-operation, then the verdict will clearly carry no moral weight''.


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