Bo Xilai Trial May, May Not Start Monday

The South China Morning Post has poured lukewarm water on earlier reports, originating in state media, that the trial of fallen Chongqing Party Chief Bo Xilai will begin on Monday.

When asked by reporters, a spokesman for Guizhou Intermediate Court said: “Are you asking about Bo Xilai case? This is rumour, we have never received this case.”

The China-run Ta Kung Pao newspaper said on its website that Bo’s trial would start on Monday in the southern city of Guiyang and last three days. It cited “well-informed Beijing sources”, but gave no details.

[…] One of Bo’s lawyers, Li Guifang, declined to comment when reached by telephone. Reporters were unable to reach his second lawyer, Wang Zhaofeng, despite repeated telephone calls.

[…] Li Zhuang, a Beijing lawyer who opposed Wang Lijun and Bo for mounting a sweeping crackdown on foes in the name of fighting organised crime, said he also thought it was possible for a Monday hearing.

“I would only say it’s possible, though not totally certain,” Li said.

Comments about Bo’s likely fate from Li Jingtian, executive vice president of the Central Party School, were similarly inconclusive. From Tom Orlik and Gerard Baker at The Wall Street Journal:

“We have always had severe punishment for corrupt officials,” Mr. Li said during the interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Wednesday, in response to a question about the fate of Mr. Bo. Such interviews are rare for senior party officials.

He cited the examples of Liu Qingshan and Zhang Zishan, two leaders in the party’s early days who were executed in the 1950s following accusations of embezzlement and other crimes in one of the party’s first anticorruption campaigns.

[…] Mr. Li’s comments don’t mean Mr. Bo is likely to face execution if found guilty. While he cited the case of another execution—that of Cheng Kejie, a former top legislator who was executed in 2000—he also cited the case of Chen Xitong, a former party chief of Beijing convicted on corruption charges in 1998 but released from prison on medical parole in 2006. He also named Chen Liangyu, the former party secretary of Shanghai who was dismissed in 2006 and later sentenced to 18 years in prison on corruption charges.

See more on the Bo case to date, some of it more certain than the above, via CDT.