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.

  • Sy moves up, Villar enters Forbes list of billionaires
    Sy moves up, Villar enters Forbes list of billionaires

    Eleven Filipinos are included in Forbes’ 2015 list of richest people in the world. Filipino-Chinese tycoon Henry Sy Sr. continues to be the wealthiest man in the Philippines. The 90-year-old SM supermalls, banking and property tycoon ranked 73rd among the world’s richest with an increased net worth of $14.2 billion from $11.4 billion last year. Sy’s net worth was attributed to the continued growth of his SM Investments Corp. and his more recent venture, the City of Dreams Manila resort and …

  • US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines
    US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen said Wednesday he had found one of Japan's biggest and most famous battleships on a Philippine seabed, some 70 years after American forces sank it during World War II. Excited historians likened the discovery, if verified, to finding the Titanic, as they hailed the American billionaire for his high-tech mission that apparently succeeded after so many failed search attempts by others. Allen posted photos and video online of parts of what he said was the …

  • Jolo apologizes to Bong in visit
    Jolo apologizes to Bong in visit

    Cavite Vice Gov. Jolo Revilla wept and embraced his father as he apologized for the “accidental” shooting incident in their Ayala Alabang residence, the family’s spokesman said yesterday. Lawyer Raymund Fortun came out of the private room at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Muntinlupa City to speak to reporters, who were barred from entering the hospital compound during the visit of Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. …

  • US ambassador slashed and bloodied in Seoul attack
    US ambassador slashed and bloodied in Seoul attack

    The US ambassador to South Korea, Mark Lippert, was slashed on his face and arm in Seoul on Thursday by a blade-wielding assailant opposed to ongoing US-Korean military drills. The United States condemned the "act of violence" which left the ambassador bleeding profusely as he was rushed to hospital, and said that President Barack Obama had spoken with him. Witnesses described how a man with a blade concealed in his right hand had lunged across a table at Lippert at a breakfast function at …

  • World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too
    World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too

    TOKYO (AP) — The world's oldest person says 117 years doesn't seem like such a long time. …

  • Australian drug smugglers being taken to Indonesian island for execution - media
    Australian drug smugglers being taken to Indonesian island for execution - media

    By Jane Wardell and Beawiharta SYDNEY/DENPASAR, Indonesia (Reuters) - Two convicted Australian drug smugglers were removed from a prison in Bali on Wednesday to be taken to an Indonesian island where they will be shot by firing squad, Australian media reported. The planned executions of Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31, have ratcheted up diplomatic tensions amid repeated pleas of mercy for the pair from Australia and thrown a spotlight on Indonesia's increasing use of the death …

  • Pacquiao big hit so far in Vegas sports books vs Mayweather

    LAS VEGAS (AP) — Manny Pacquiao has always believed he can do what 47 other fighters before him have failed to do — beat Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the ring. …

  • Another source of SAF execution video identified
    Another source of SAF execution video identified

    The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is still tracing the source of the video showing one of the wounded police commandos being finished off by Muslim rebels during the encounter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25. A source from the Department of Justice (DOJ) said they have identified two persons who first uploaded the video that went viral over social networking sites. The supposed source of the video was elusive and claimed that somebody just placed it on an external drive. The …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options