China leaders debate Bo trial, prison: analysts

China's communist party appears to be fiercely debating whether to put Bo Xilai on criminal trial for trying to protect his wife from murder charges, analysts said Thursday.

If he is prosecuted, they suggested the man who was once one of China's most high profile politicians, tipped for a place on the country's top decision-making body, was likely to escape the most serious possible charges.

The comments came after the state-run news agency Xinhua released a detailed and lengthy report on the trial of Wang Lijun, Bo's former right-hand man, for defection, bribery and other offences.

It said Wang briefed the "main person responsible" for the Chongqing Communist party committee -- which Bo headed -- about the suspected role of the politician's wife Gu Kailai in the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.

Wang was later rebuked and fled to the US consulate in Chengdu seeking asylum, blowing the scandal wide open and triggering Bo's fall from grace, while exposing deep divisions in China's ruling communist party.

Bo has not been seen in public for months and he faces an internal party investigation for "serious" violations of discipline.

The Xinhua account did not identify Bo by name, but implied he knew his wife was suspected of Heywood's murder.

Under Chinese law sheltering a criminal carries a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison.

But the fact that Bo's name was not mentioned indicated the Party had yet to reach consensus about how to deal with him, said Bo Zhiyue, a Chinese politics expert at the National University of Singapore -- who is not a relation.

"The wording is intentionally vague, to leave room for the (communist party's) central committee to manoeuvre." he told AFP.

"Bo is very popular, not just amongst the people but also amongst certain elites, so (party authorities) have to be very careful," he said.

Willy Lam, politics expert at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, added: "There is still a power struggle going on, I think Bo still has powerful patrons... who are applying pressure to spare Bo from criminal charges."

While divisive, Bo retains some public support, which was to be seen at this week's anti-Japan demonstrations over disputed islands. "Diaoyu belongs to China, Bo Xilai is of the people", read one banner in Sichuan province.

If Bo stands criminal trial, he would become the second member of China's powerful Politburo in the last decade to face criminal proceedings.

Chen Liangyu, a former Communist Party chief of Shanghai, was jailed for 18 years in 2008 after being convicted of abuse of power and accepting bribes in a trial that had wide political overtones.

Court accounts and official news reports on Gu's and Wang's cases did not implicate Bo in the more serious offences of bribery and murder, which can both carry the death sentence.

"I think there will be criminal proceedings... now that the charge of covering up a murder has been confirmed," Zhang Ming, a professor of politics at the People's University in Beijing told AFP.

But he added: "I don't think there will be any additional charges. I expect he'll get a prison sentence of about 10 years."

Gu was last month convicted of Heywood's murder and given a suspended death sentence, which is normally commuted to life imprisonment in China.

Xinhua quoted Wang as saying at his trial: "I acknowledge and confess the guilt accused by the prosecuting body and show my repentance."

In an editorial on Wang's trial which mentioned Bo by name, the state-run Global Times called for more "criminal officials" to be "firmly punished".

"Justice can be found anywhere...this is true not only in Wang's case but for many powerful elites," it said.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • FBI confirms death of top militant in bloody Philippine raid
    FBI confirms death of top militant in bloody Philippine raid

    The FBI confirmed on Thursday that a senior Malaysian militant with a $5-million reward on his head was killed in a January raid in the Philippines that also left 44 police commandos dead. The confirmation provides some validation for the botched raid that plunged President Benigno Aquino's administration into crisis and jeopardised efforts to end a decades-long Muslim separatist insurgency. "After a thorough review of forensic data and information obtained from our Philippine law enforcement …

  • Micronesians appeal for help after devastating typhoon
    Micronesians appeal for help after devastating typhoon

    Residents in storm wrecked areas of Micronesia appealed for help on Thursday as a clean-up began on the worst affected islands after Super Typhoon Maysak swept through the region on its way towards the Philippines. "We can do with all the help we can get," Courtney Stinnett at the Truk Stop Hotel dive shop on the main island of Weno in Chuuk state told AFP. A state of emergency has been declared in Chuuk, the largest region in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) where five people were …

  • Super typhoon weakens after entering Philippines

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A super typhoon blamed for the deaths of at least four people on islands in the western Pacific Ocean has weakened after reaching Philippine waters and is expected to further lose strength as it approaches the country's northeastern coast, officials said Thursday. …

  • From Space, Typhoon Maysak's Eye Looks Like a Black Hole (Photo)
    From Space, Typhoon Maysak's Eye Looks Like a Black Hole (Photo)

    It seemed like a black hole from a Sci-Fi movie," NASA astronaut Terry Virts wrote on Twitter. Virts and his fellow astronauts have been posting pictures of the typhoon, which is expected to hit the Philippines this weekend if it doesn't change course. "Commands respect even from space," wrote Samantha Cristoforetti, an Italian astronaut with the European Space Agency who launched into space with Virts in November. As of 11 a.m. EdT today (1500 GMT), the super typhoon was 223 miles (359 km) …

  • Muslim group calls for universal peace
    Muslim group calls for universal peace

    As predominantly Catholic Philippines and the rest of the Christian world observe the Holy Week, peace advocates like the Young Muslim Professionals Network (YMPN) are appealing to Filipinos of various creeds and persuasion to embrace the universal message of kindness, love and peace. The group issued the call as peace negotiations between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front teeter due to the Mamasapano incident where members of the rebel group killed 44 police commandos on a …

  • Ex-WB exec pushes BBL passage
    Ex-WB exec pushes BBL passage

    A former World Bank official has warned of dire consequences for the Philippines if the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is not passed into law. Nigel Roberts, former director on conflict, security and development, said that more conflict could occur without the BBL. “It takes about 15 years to get back to pre-conflict GDP growth rates, and 20 years for trade to recover,” Roberts said in his blog at the World Bank website. The World Bank estimated that economic losses amounted to $10 …

  • Despite typhoon, summer is here
    Despite typhoon, summer is here

    Super Typhoon Chedeng roared toward Luzon as the weather bureau announced the official start of summer in the country yesterday. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) announced yesterday the official start of the dry or summer season in the country due to the termination of the cold northeast monsoon. “The general public is advised to take precautionary measures to minimize heat stress and take note of the need in optimizing the daily use of …

  • Noy told: Just answer the questions
    Noy told: Just answer the questions

    Just answer the 20 questions. The Makabayan bloc of seven party-list representatives made this appeal to President Aquino yesterday after his spokesman claimed the Chief Executive has already answered most of the questions posed by the militant lawmakers regarding the Mamasapano incident. For instance, he said the President has not yet explained why he allowed then suspended Philippine National Police chief Director General Alan Purisima to take the lead in Oplan Exodus or the mission to …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options