09/20/2012, 00.00
CHINA

Bo Xilai casts shadow on Wang Lijun's trial

Wang Zhicheng
An account of the trial in Xinhua reveals that Wang Lijun told ex Chongqing party chief of suspicions about his wife, who killed businessman Neil Heywood, and is slapped for this. Bo could go on trial shortly. Party congress date not yet announced.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - For the first time in months, ex Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai (pictured left) appears linked with the murder of businessman Neil Heywood, killed by Bo's wife Gu Kailai in November of last year.

Xinhua published a detailed account of the recent trial against Wang Lijun (pictured right). The ex Chongqing police chief said he told Bo that his wife was under suspicion for the Heywood murder. Bo responded by slapping him in the face. Xinhua however did not mention Bo but identified him as the "main person responsible" for the Chongqing Communist party committee, which Bo headed.

That slap appears to have produced a change in Wang Lijun. Until then, he had covered up for Gu Kailai, and concealed the evidence of her role in the murder.

After the humiliating experience, he asked his colleagues to reopen the case and brought out the evidence, including the victim's blood, and all the signs of poisoning. He also produced Gu's confession, which he secretly recorded a day after the murder.

Fearing for his life, Wang sought political asylum in February at the US consulate in Chengdu. Eventually, Chinese police, which had surrounded the consulate, convinced him to surrender.

Mr Wang made allegations about Mr Heywood's death whilst at the US consulate. This led, shortly thereafter, to Mr Bo's resignation, and the trial against his wife and four police officers who covered up the murder.

Wang Lijun too was arrested and put on trial for, among various charges, dereliction of duty by seeking asylum in the consulate.

The Xinhua account repeatedly slammed him for causing a negative impact at home and abroad.

Gu Kailai was sentenced to death in August, but the sentence was suspended for two years. Four police agents were also tried in August. Wang's trial instead was held last Monday and Tuesday.

So far, Bo Xilai had not been linked to the affair in any of the trials. Once a princeling with aspirations for a position in the Politburo central committee, his saga, full of intrigue, corruption, sudden changes, betrayals and murder has caused one of the worse crises for China's Communist party, badly undermining its credibility.

Perhaps because of this crisis, the date of the upcoming party congress has not been announced yet. Major changes at the top are expected, but now that Bo's name has been indirectly linked to the affair, many expect him to be put on trial because, as Xinhua put it, the law applies to everybody.

Until recently, after his forced resignation as Chongqing party chief, Bo had been subjected to an internal inquiry for violating party discipline.

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See also
Chongqing Saga: Bo Xilai’s wife accepts murder charges
11/08/2012
“Trial of the century" begins (and ends) against Gu Kailai
09/08/2012
Charges laid against Wang Lijun. Again, no mention of Bo Xilai
06/09/2012
Bo Xilai’s deputy visits US consulate, jeopardising his admission to the politburo
10/02/2012
Chongqing saga: police and Wang Lijun on trial. Silence on Bo Xilai
10/08/2012