Disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai will not stand trial until March at the earliest, state media said on Monday, as dozens of journalists descended on a court rumoured to be hearing his case this week.
Speculation mounted last Friday that details of the biggest scandal to hit the ruling Communist Party in decades would be heard on Monday at a court in the southwestern city of Guiyang, after a report in a Hong Kong newspaper.
But the state-run Global Times newspaper, citing "a source close to the country's top judicial body", said the trial would not take place until after China's annual legislative meeting in March.
"The information in terms of the date and location for the trial will certainly be made public in advance," the source told the state-run newspaper, adding that the trial "might be very complicated and last up to 10 days".
The "complexity" meant the trial would not be heard until after the sessions of China's rubber-stamp parliament, the National People's Congress, and advisory body, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the source added.
The annual meetings are scheduled to take place in early March.
Dozens of journalists from China and abroad gathered around the court on Monday, Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV said, after outlets across the country picked up the newspaper report.
But the Guiyang court held a televised press conference where a spokesman told reporters: "We have not received any news that the Bo Xilai case will be heard in Guiyang."
Bo, the former party chief of the southwestern metropolis of Chongqing, is likely to face multiple charges including taking bribes and "bending the law" to cover up his wife's murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.
The Communist Party expelled Bo in November, after an internal investigation found evidence of several offences including "improper sexual relations with multiple women", China's official news agency Xinhua said.
Bo has appointed two defence lawyers to represent him at his trial, the attorneys' staff told AFP earlier this month.
He was once seen as a rising star in the party, expected to join the Politburo Standing Committee, China's highest political body.
Bo has not been seen in public since last spring and his whereabouts are unknown.