Verdict in China ex-police chief case Monday

Judgement will be passed on Chinese ex-police chief Wang Lijun for defection and other crimes Monday, a court said as the scandal that brought down top politician Bo Xilai reverberated ahead of a power transfer.

Wang fled to the US consulate in Chengdu in February, sparking a crisis that saw Bo sacked and his wife convicted of murder, exposing deep divisions in the upper echelons of Chinese politics.

The timetable for the judgement on Wang is relatively quick and comes as the Communist Party attempts to contain the fall-out from the scandal ahead of the once-in-a-decade leadership transition, widely expected next month.

Foreign media and independent journalists were barred from entering the court during Wang's trial -- highlighting efforts of the authorities to manage proceedings.

"The verdict in the Wang Lijun case will be announced on September 24," said a spokeswoman for the Chengdu Intermediate People's Court, who gave her surname as Sheng.

At his two-day trial the ex-police chief "did not raise an objection" to accusations of defection, abuse of power, bribe-taking and bending the law for selfish ends, said a court statement issued Tuesday after the hearings ended.

Wang sought asylum from US authorities during a 33-hour stay in the consulate, according to the trial report from the official news agency Xinhua, which quoted him as saying: "I acknowledge and confess the guilt accused by the prosecuting body and show my repentance."

Wang is almost certain to be found guilty on all charges, some of which can carry the death penalty.

But his sentence is likely to be less severe after Tuesday's court statement quoted both prosecutors and defence saying his cooperation with authorities made him eligible for a more a lenient outcome.

Relations between Bo and Wang turned sour early this year, months after British businessman Neil Heywood, a close associate of Bo's family, was found dead in a Chongqing hotel room.

Bo's wife Gu Kailai was handed a suspended death sentence -- usually commuted to life in prison -- for Heywood's murder last month.

Wang's lawyer, Wang Yuncai -- who is not related to her client -- said that Bo was explicitly named during the trial.

The Xinhua account suggested the politician knew his wife was suspected of Heywood's murder but did nothing, leaving him open to possible prosecution and imprisonment for sheltering a criminal.

The defence lawyer said Xinhua's report was "accurate" but incomplete, omitting to mention that Gu had been implicated in bribery.

The court saw evidence that she had helped Wang procure a bribe from a businessman, the lawyer said, adding that a more comprehensive trial report was likely to be released after the verdict.

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

Analysts have told AFP that the Communist Party appears to be divided on whether Bo, who still has a number of high-level political allies and some public support, should be put on criminal trial.

Wang, 52, was drafted in by Bo, then the top party official in the sprawling metropolis of Chongqing, to lead an anti-mafia crackdown in the city, which resulted in thousands of arrests.

The campaign, along with a revival of "red" or Maoist culture, was a central part of an effort by Bo to boost his profile and gain a place on China's top decision-making body.

But it sparked widespread accusations of torture and arbitrary arrests by the Chongqing police force that Wang headed.


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