Jinan (AsiaNews) - On the second day of his trial, Bo Xilai, former Party chief in Chongqing, again rejected accusations levelled against him by his wife Gu Kailai and businessman Tang Xiaoling, calling them unreliable and false. Yesterday, at the first hearing, he said that his wife suffers from mental illness and that Tang was just a lying "mad dog."
China's most important political trial in decades, which might ruin Bo and see him put to death, could turn him instead into a hero, praised by supporters, like those who are already showing up outside of the courthouse.
Bo is accused of bribery, corruption and abuse of power. For the first two allegations, the court presented the taped confession of Gu Kailai, who was sentenced to death for killing businessman Neil Heywood.
On tape, Gu says that she and Bo had safes full of money, and that on one occasion she took out US$ 130,000. For Gu, the money came from secret kickbacks to Bo.
In a hard tone, the accused pointed out that, because of his political commitments and his wife's many trips abroad, the two had not been living together for years and saw each other only rarely and that he had no control over the money that came in or went out of the safes.
"I think Gu Kailai's testimony is very comical and ridiculous," Bo said.
He and his lawyers noted that Gu was "crazy," that she had been under medical care for some time and that she easily lies.
He was even tougher in his rebuttal of Tang Xiaoling who claimed to have given Bo a total of US$ 3.4 million, and paid Gu and her sons money for travel, houses, meetings with friends, etc.
Bo denied taking bribes and called Tang a "mad dog" who lies to protect his interests.
Bo also retracted the admission of guilt he made during an internal party investigation, saying that it had been obtained under duress.
"I'm not a perfect man and I'm not always strong-willed," Bo said in a transcript released by Jinan Intermediate People's Court. "But I want to speak out the truth of my charges."
Bo's rejection of the charges makes this trial very different from that of his wife, who accepted the charges and the verdict.
Observers are wondering whether Bo's confrontation with the court is all for show, as is often the case in China, or if it might turn into something unexpected that could prove divisive.
The trial has been prepared to the smallest detail, including the choice of guards who must be taller than Bo Xilai's 1.80 metres, to create a sense of power over the disgraced leader in the official photos posted on the court's micro-blogging account, which are disseminated to give the impression of openness and honesty.
For many scholars however, the trial of the Gang of Four in 1980 was much more open. Back then, people could come and go from the courtroom, and the trial was broadcast live.
This time, only about 100 handpicked participants can attend the proceedings, which can only be seen only through still photographs.
In 1980, the trial was held in the capital; this time, it is in distant Shandong province.
And judges who tried the Gang of Four provided more information compared to Bo's judges who limit themselves to brief microblogging messages.
Meanwhile, police is keeping Bo supporters away from the courthouse. For the latter, he helped the people and is a victim of President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.