Bo Booted from NPC, But Trial May Wait

As expected, and despite a public letter issued earlier this week by a group of leftists urging the Chinese Communist Party to reconsider, The Associated Press reported on Friday morning that China has formally expelled disgraced former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai from the National People’s Congress. But while many believe that such a step paves the way for his trial to be concluded before next month’s 18th Party Congress, Bo’s lawyer told The Wall Street Journal on Thursday that his day in court may have to wait:

The lawyer, Li Xiaolin, told The Wall Street Journal on Thursday that he hadn’t been able to meet with Mr. Bo, but he believed his new client was being held in Qincheng prison, a facility on the outskirts of Beijing that is reserved for high-profile political figures.

Chinese leaders are thought to have been anxious to conclude the scandal surrounding Mr. Bo ahead of the 18th Party Congress, which begins on Nov. 8 and which will mark the start of a once-a-decade leadership change. His wife, Gu Kailai, was convicted in August of murdering a British businessman.

But having reached an agreement last month that Mr. Bo should also face criminal charges, party chieftains are now preoccupied with the leadership change, making it increasingly unlikely that a trial will happen before the congress, according to party insiders, lawyers and analysts.

It’s unclear, however, how much Li really knows. In a brief telephone interview with Reuters on Thursday, Li said he was unsure if the government would even allow him to take the case after he was only recently hired by Bo’s mother-in-law to represent him:

“There are many things that are impossible to know. I know about as much as you do,” Li said.

He declined to speculate on when a trial may happen.

“How can I estimate this? It’s all guesswork,” Li said.


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