China's Corruption Trial Turns into Steamy Soap Opera
BEIJING -A murder and corruption scandal that has rocked China's Communist Party unraveled when a prominent police chief fell in love with a top official's wife who had killed a British businessman.
The police chief then got slapped by the husband and ran to a U.S. consulate for protection, triggering the scandal.
This is not the plot for an episode of "One Life to Live." Instead it is straight from the transcript of the corruption trial for disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai
Bo is on trial for allegedly embezzling and accepting bribes totaling $4.3 million and abusing his power in office while leader of the Chongqing megacity and a member of the powerful Politburo. Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, has already been convicted of murdering British businessman Neil Heywood and was given a suspended death sentence last year.
In his final day in court, Bo told the judiciary, according to transcripts released today, that his former police chief and right hand man Wang Lijun was secretly in love with his wife and initially helped her efforts to cover up Heywood's murder.
In the highest profile courtroom drama China has seen in over a generation, the court transcripts read like a soap opera that almost threatened the Chinese Communist Party's once-in-a-decade transition of power last year.
In his closing statement Bo described the relationship between Wang and Gu as being as close and binding, like "glue and paint."
"I was very upset about it," said Bo, according to transcripts released by the Jinan Intermediate People's Court.
According to the transcripts , Wang told Bo about his wife's involvement in Heywood's murder. Bo then confronted Gu about the killing, but she convinced Bo of her innocence. Believing his wife, Bo stormed into Wang's office the next day on Jan. 29, 2012 and walloped his police chief on the side of his head.
Wang told the court on Saturday that Bo punched him so hard that he "found the edge of [his] mouth bleeding and liquid dripping out of [his] ear."
It was shortly after being slapped that Wang sought refuge in the American consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu, triggering the unraveling of the murder scheme and Bo's political career.
But Bo told the court that the real reason Wang fled to the U.S. consulate was because he found out about Wang's feelings for his wife.
In the transcripts, Bo described the moment he walked into the room just when Wang was confessing his feelings for Gu.
"[Wang] was consumed with these feelings and couldn't control himself. He had also confessed to Gu Kailai, he said so in his letter to Gu Kailai," Bo told the court.
"[Wang] slapped himself eight times, and Gu Kailai told him he was a little abnormal. Wang replied that he had been abnormal before, but was normal now… He invaded my family, invaded my basic emotions. This is the real reason he defected. Wang Lijun wants to muddy up the water."
Bo remained defiant throughout his five days in court despite the possibility he already knows his verdict. Chinese courts have a 99 percent conviction rate and rarely go to trial unless the prosecution is guaranteed a win.
The prosecutors have alleged that Bo took more than 20 million yuan ($3.27 million) in bribes from two businessmen, embezzled another 5 million yuan ($ 820,000) from a government building project, and abused his power in trying to cover up his wife's involvement in the Heywood murder.
"Over the past few days of the trial, the accused Bo Xilai has not only flatly denied a vast amount of conclusive evidence and facts of his crimes. He has also repudiated his pre-trial written testimony and materials," an unnamed prosecutor told the court in the transcripts of the closing arguments Monday.
"We take this opportunity to remind Bo Xilai the facts of the crimes are objective, and can't be shifted around on your whim."
The prosecution urged a "severe" sentence with no leniency.
In an unexpected and unprecedented level of apparent transparency, the Jinan Intermediate People's Court, with the obviously blessing of the Communist Party, has allowed transcripts of the hearing to be tweeted out onto Chinese social media. However, according to reports by the New York Times and Hong Kong's South China Morning Post, which both spoke with sources who claimed direct knowledge of proceedings inside the courtroom, the public transcripts were censored of testimony that humanized Bo or cast the Communist Party in a bad light.
The party has had to tread a fine line.
Bo was a political superstar at one point, known for his overt politicking in a climate where it was generally frowned upon by his peers. He led a populist Maoist revival and a massive anticorruption campaign during his time as party boss of the Chinese megacity of Chongqing and still has many allies and supporters.
The public transcript gave the semblance that Bo had a chance to defend himself in court.
Though it was his anti-corruption campaign in Chongqing that first gave Bo his national and international spotlight, Bo's political record was not put on trial nor did it ever show up in the transcripts. Ironically, Bo is now being put away by the newly-installed Chinese leadership's own anti-corruption drive, done in by the personal drama of his closest confidantes and family members.
According to the court, the verdict in expected at later date, yet to be decided.