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Chinese Court Upholds Life Sentence for Top Aide to Bo Xilai

A court in northeastern China has said that a senior aide to Bo Xilai, an imprisoned former high-ranking Communist Party official, must serve a life sentence in prison for corruption.

The court rejected an appeal by the aide, Wu Wenkang, 57, who had been given the life sentence by a lower court in late 2014. Officials also seized Mr. Wu's assets that year. An official explanation of the recent decision, on the website of the Higher People's Court of Jilin Province, sheds new light on the corrupt practices of Mr. Bo and his allies.

State-run news media reported on the decision on Monday and Tuesday, but the announcement on the court's website was dated Jan. 8.

Mr. Bo, a former Politburo member, commerce minister and party chief of the municipality of Chongqing, was involved in the most spectacular and closely watched murder scandal in the Communist Party's post-Mao history. Mr. Bo was dismissed from his Chongqing post and from the party in 2012, and the next year, a court sentenced him to life in prison for corruption and abuse of power after a melodramatic trial.

Like President Xi Jinping, Mr. Bo was a member of the "red nobility" — his father, Bo Yibo, now deceased, is considered one of the founding fathers of Communist China — and for more than four years, he led Chongqing in an ostentatious manner that suggested he could try to challenge Mr. Xi's rise to power.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Bo was the mayor of Dalian, a port city in northeast China, during which time Mr. Wu was one of his aides. Mr. Bo brought Mr. Wu to Chongqing after he was appointed party chief there in late 2007, and Mr. Wu took on an important role as deputy chief of staff and director of the general office of Chongqing's party committee.

The court announcement said that Mr. Wu had been found guilty of taking bribes worth 20.2 million renminbi, or more than $3 million, from six Dalian businessmen from 1999 to 2012, covering a period when Mr. Wu worked in Liaoning Province and Chongqing. Mr. Wu was officially detained in October 2012, shortly after Mr. Bo was dismissed from the party.

Early that year, the police chief of Chongqing had told American diplomats that Mr. Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, had murdered a British businessman by poisoning him, and the police chief later turned himself in to senior party officials. Evidence provided by the police chief, Wang Lijun, was then used to bring down Mr. Bo, who had many enemies in the party.

In return for the Dalian businessmen's bribes, the court said, Mr. Wu helped the men in "land development, project contracting, providing loans and more." Those favors began in 1994, when Mr. Wu was a secretary to Mr. Bo, then the mayor of Dalian. The court statement did not say whether Mr. Bo took any of the money that the businessmen gave to Mr. Wu.

In the 1994 case, Mr. Wu helped a real estate developer in Dalian get a project approved, the court said, and in return, Mr. Wu was given an apartment in 1999 that was worth 300,000 renminbi.

Mr. Wu's lawyers tried to argue for a more lenient sentence on the grounds that Mr. Wu had cooperated with officials investigating Mr. Bo.

Ms. Gu, Mr. Bo's wife, is serving a life sentence, and Mr. Wang, the former Chongqing police chief, is serving a 15-year sentence.

When a court announced the verdict in Mr. Bo's trial in 2013, it said that Mr. Wu, at the orders of Mr. Bo, had opened illegal inquiries into police officers who worked under Mr. Wang. Mr. Wu's actions occurred at a time when Mr. Wang and several colleagues were secretly investigating Ms. Gu's role in the murder of the British businessman Neil Heywood.

The Bo ruling also said that Mr. Wu had helped Ms. Gu obtain a false diagnosis from a physician that said that Mr. Wang had "severe depression." Ms. Gu circulated the diagnosis in an effort to discredit Mr. Wang after he had spoken to American diplomats.

[Source: By Edward Wong, The New York Times, Beijing, 01Mar16]

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Corruption and Organized Crime
small logoThis document has been published on 03Mar16 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.