Bo Xilai has been found guilty on all charges by a Chinese court and has been sentenced to life imprisonment on corruption-related charges.
The decision was handed down in the Intermediate People’s Court in Jinan, Shandong province. Bo can appeal the sentence, however. The court gave him life behind bars for taking bribes, 15 years for embezzlement, and seven years for abuse of power.
Although Bo — a senior Communist Party member — has maintained his innocence, prosecutors claim that the took millions in bribes. A conviction in the Bo case was pretty much a foregone conclusion according to USA Today: “A guilty verdict was widely expected as defendants in criminal cases in China, where the ruling Communist Party controls the courts, are almost always found guilty.”
As we previously reported, the former high-level politician was charged with corruption-related offenses in July. The scandal stems from the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood. Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, was convicted of the murder. Former Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun has also been convicted, sentenced, and jailed in connection with the scandal.
CNN notes that Bo was on the fast-track in Chinese politics: “The son of a revolutionary veteran, Bo rose to power as a city mayor, provincial governor, minister of commerce and member of the Politburo, the powerful policy-making body of the Communist Party. He had been tipped to ascend farther up the party hierarchy.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, “The murder triggered China’s worst political crisis since the Tiananmen Square crackdown of 1989 and repairing rifts between Mr. Bo’s allies and opponents has been one of the main challenges for China’s new leader, Xi Jinping, in his first year in office.”
The BBC explains that “Two years ago Bo Xilai was seen as a candidate for promotion to the Politburo Standing Committee, China’s top decision-making body. His downfall was seen as the biggest political shake-up to hit China’s ruling elite in decades.But his trial also offered the public a rare glimpse into the life of China’s rich and powerful, with lurid details emerging of lavish vacations and luxury villas.”