|Court cautions Bo Xilai after he rounds on witnessTang, calling him liar and mad dog
Former Chongqing politician Bo Xilai lashed out at his trial today in a court in Jinan in Shangdong province, contesting a bribery charge arising from a murder and corruption scandal.
The court ended the day's proceedings past 6pm today and will resume tomorrow at 8:30 am.
Bo accused a key prosecution witness today of “selling his soul'' while describing purported testimony from his wife Gu Kailai as laughable, AFP reports.
He faces charges of bribery, embezzlement and abusing his political powers to cover up Gu's murder of British businessman Neil Heywood in 2011, according to the Intermediate People's Court in Jinan, which released regular updates on its Twitter-like weibo account.
But rather than following the script for Chinese political trials – where the accused tend to confess – Bo went on the offensive.
He denied accepting more than 1.1 million yuan in bribes from Dalian businessman Tang Xiaolin, saying he had “confessed against his will'' while under interrogation by the Communist Party's feared internal disciplinary body.
“I was willing to accept my legal responsibilities,'' the 64-year-old said. “But I was not at all aware about the details of the matter. My mind was blank at the time.''
Tang, he said, was “utterly corrupt and a liar,’’ countering that the businessman himself had committed “major crimes’’ of embezzlement and bribery.
“He's simply trying to get his punishment reduced,'' Bo said. “That's why he bites around like a mad dog.''
The judge told him: “Defendant, the court reminds you, you can't use language slandering the dignity of the witness.''
Bo's refusal to admit the charge contrasted with previous political cases in China including those of both Gu and Bo's former police chief Wang Lijun, who confessed at their trials last year.
Gu was last year given a suspended death sentence – normally commuted to life imprisonment – for Heywood's murder. Wang, whose flight to a US consulate blew the scandal open, got 15 years in jail for his role in covering up the killing, defection and other crimes.
Prosecutors said Bo received 21.8 million yuan in bribes while mayor of Dalian, a northeastern port city, governor of Liaoning province and national minister of commerce, and that he also embezzled another 5 million yuan of public funds.
Bribes were received through Gu and their son Bo Guagua, they said.
The court said in a statement that Gu – in connection with the bribery charges – had provided evidence that she took tens of thousands of dollars at a time from safes at the couple's homes.
But Bo described her purported testimony as “hilarious.’’
“How could she say for certain that I put the $50,000 or $80,000 into the safes?'' he asked.
The charges come under a law that prescribes a minimum of 10 years in jail for taking bribes of more than 100,000 yuan, the court said.
Bo also denied accusations that he accepted money and gifts worth 20.7 million yuan – including a villa in southern France – from Xu Ming, chairman of private conglomerate Shide Group, calling them “untrue.’’
Bo said he was “completely unaware'' of the French property, adding “the whole process was made up.’’