A Chinese court has rejected former top Chinese official Bo Xilai’s appeal against his conviction on multiple corruption-related charges.
Bo, a former Chongqing party chief and member of the “princelings,” last month was convicted of bribery, embezzlement, and abuse of power by the Jinan Intermediate People’s Court and given a life sentence. On Friday, the Shangdong High People’s Court upheld that decision.
The decision was widely expected given that Chinese courts are controlled by the Communist Party. While Bo’s first trial was considered open and public by China’s standards—it was partially broadcast on television and the court provided minute-to-minute microblogging updates—the appeal hearing was held behind closed doors. A spokesman announced the verdict at a news conference after it had been handed down.
Bo’s collapse began in February 2012 when former Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun made an attempt to defect to the American consulate in Chengdu. Wang revealed that Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, had murdered British businessman and longtime family associate Neil Heywood. As a result of the investigation, Bo was stripped of party boss post in March and was expelled from party in September last year.
Among his reasons for appeal, Bo had said that his earlier testimony had been given under duress and therefore should not have been included at trial. He also asked the higher court to reject testimony from wife, Gu, who pre-recorded that testimony rather than appearing in court, denying him the chance to cross-examine her.
But according to state-run news agency Xinhua, a panel formed by the Shangdong High People’s Court conducted a thorough review of the first trial.
“The panel interrogated Bo several times and heard opinions of his lawyers, verified all evidence, comprehensively examined the facts confirmed during the first trial and legal applications to fully safeguard the litigation rights of Bo and the defense lawyers,” a Xinhua report said.
“After review by the collegial panel and deliberation of a judgment committee, Shandong Higher People’s Court gave its decision,” Xinhua said.
According to Reuters, any further appeal is unlikely as Bo could only take his case to the Supreme Court in Beijing if he had been sentenced to death.
“The above ruling is the final judgment,” Reuters quoted a court spokesman as saying.