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Bo remains defiant but admits partial culpability

Under trial Communist leader Bo Xilai continued to be defiant today but admitted to partial culpability in taking bribes and said he was ashamed of his colleague's flight to a US mission. Sutirtho Patranobis reports.

world Updated: Aug 24, 2013 20:28 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

Under trial Communist leader Bo Xilai continued to be defiant on Saturday but admitted to partial culpability in taking bribes and said he was ashamed of his colleague's flight to a US mission to seek shelter and confessed to adultery.

Bo accepted his culpability in receiving 5 million Yuan (or more than $817000) which was siphoned off from a government project and funneled to his wife Gu Kailai's bank account while he was in Dalian.

The focus of Saturday's court proceedings was on the allegation of "abuse of power"; Bo is also accused of corruption and embezzlement.

Crucially on Saturday, Wang Lijun, former vice mayor of Chongqing Municipality and its police chief, appeared in court on Saturday afternoon to testify on the charge of abuse of power against Bo Xilai.

Wang was sentenced in September last year to 15 years in prison for "bending the law for selfish ends, defection, abuse of power and bribe-taking".

"Wang, who had served as police chief of Chongqing, covered up the murder case of Gu Kailai, Bo's wife. (The victim was British businessman, Neil Heywood). Wang also entered the US consulate to attempt to defect while performing his official duties, according to the verdict by the Chengdu Intermediate People's Court," state-run Xinhua said.

Bo was accused of approving the release of false news that Wang was receiving "vocation-style treatment" before his defection.

Wang told the court that he believed Bo sacked him to cover up the murder, adding that Bo had punched him during a confrontation over Gu's role in the crime.

"It was very dangerous at that time," Wang said, adding: "I was the victim of violence, and my colleagues and those handling the case had disappeared."

Bo denied sacking Wang because of the murder allegations against Gu. He claimed he had reassigned Wang for genuine health issues.

On his part, Bo told the court that he felt "ashamed" by Wang's flight to the US mission which had reflected badly on the image of the party and country.

"I wasn't able to behave coolly at a critical juncture and I made serious errors in judgment. So I bear some responsibility for Wang Lijun's flight and I feel very sorry for this."

"I have made mistakes and errors, I feel very sorry and I'm willing to take appropriate responsibility, but whether there was a crime or not is another matter," Bo said.

"I did not act illegally to show favoritism and protect Gu Kailai."

The disgraced former Politburo member also admitted having affairs for which, he said, wife Gu Kailai and son, Bo Guagua, moved to the UK.

"To some extent, the reason (Gu and Guagua) left was because she was really angry about my adultery," Bo said.

Saturday was the third day of Bo's trial at the Intermediate People's Court in Jinan in eastern China's Shandong province where he is standing trial after being indicted for accepting bribes, embezzlement and abuse of power.

Former director of the urban and rural planning bureau of Dalian, Wang Zhenggang, told the court that he was present when Bo told his wife to accept kickbacks from a construction project; Bo at that time was the mayor of Dalian city.

Bo refuted the testimony, saying he had no need for the money as his wife was a successful lawyer and his son's study in the UK was funded through a full scholarship.

He also mocked Wang's testimony, saying: "Is this in line with the way an embezzler would think?...Would I say something this sensitive on the phone?"

"It is not even what the most stupid corruption offender would do," he said.

But he went on to say that soon after Wang Zhenggang returned with the offer. Bo claimed that he then told Wang that he could talk to his wife, Gu Kailai about it.

According to the testimonies, which is being uploaded via the court's official microblog,Bo said that he allowed Wang to speak to Gu about the money because he "lacked alertness", which is how the money ended up going to her.

"After Gu and Wang had their discussions, I did not go and investigate, I let it slide. It was more than a decade ago, I don't really remember the details," Bo said, adding: "This money had already gone into my wife's account, leading to the personal use of public money."

"I am willing to approve the analysis of the prosecutors after their investigation, and at the same time accept legal responsibility for this. I am deeply ashamed and regretful about this incident," Bo said, according to the released testimony.

Bo said he took an "indulgent" attitude to the issue, state-run Xinhua reported. "Prosecutors said the accusations about the illegal embezzlement of the project funds were presented clearly and the evidence was authentic," the report said.

In the previous two days of trial, prosecutors accused Bo of accepting bribes worth about 21.8 million Yuan (about $3.5 million) from businessmen Tang Xiaolin and Xu Ming and embezzling five million Yuan in public funds from the Dalian municipal government, but Bo denied the charges.

The trial continues on Sunday.