A short announcement from Xinhua last night indicated that the “serious law violation case” against disgraced Chongqing Party chief Bo Xilai has been transferred to “judicial organs,” without providing details about whether or when he will go to trial. The Xinhua dispatch also said the case against former Railway Minister Liu Zhijun, who was dismissed for corruption almost two years ago, had also been sent to “judicial organs.” Some observers believe the Party is readying the case against Bo in order to hold the trial before the annual National People’s Congress meetings in March, when Xi Jinping is expected to take over as President from Hu Jintao. From the Telegraph:
While the report hinted that Mr Bo’s day in court could be approaching, Xinhua failed to give a date or location for the trial or any further details.
Online, there was speculation that the announcement was simply a ruse to divert media attention from an ongoing row over press freedom that has now seen three days of protests in southeast China.
However, Willy Lam, a politics expert from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said Mr Bo’s trial could well be held in February.
“I think there are good reasons to wrap it up before the National People’s Congress [NPC] in March,” he said. “I think there is a good chance the judicial process will begin, perhaps after the Chinese New Year. They don’t want the Bo case to be a distraction at the NPC and I think they have already collected enough evidence.” Mr Bo, the former party chief of Chongqing, was toppled from power in early 2012 in the aftermath of the mysterious death of British businessman Neil Heywood.
The government announced a criminal investigation into alleged wrongdoing by Bo in September, before the Party leadership transition in November, but there has been no information about Bo’s case since then. From the Hindu:
With the CPC completing its once-in-a-decade leadership change at its November Party Congress, the case against Mr. Bo was put on the back-burner: the purge of the leader had embarrassed the party — lifting the veil on the abuses of power and rampant corruption in its highest ranks — only weeks before the transfer of power to the party’s fifth generation of leaders. Mr. Bo, the son of a once powerful conservative Party elder, Bo Yibo, was seen as having allies who had ties to his father and had supporters on the Left.
In the first indication since the Party Congress that the trial of Mr. Bo may be imminent, the official Xinhua news agency said in a report on Wednesday that the “serious law violation case” involving Mr. Bo had been transferred “to judicial organs”. The report did not give a date for the trial, which is expected to take place in Beijing.
The report, quoting Central Committee of Discipline Inspection spokesman Cui Shaopeng, added that “a total of 4,698 county-level cadres or higher-level cadres were punished by CPC’s discipline watchdogs in 2012 and 961 cadres at county-level or above have been transferred to judicial organs”.