China's disgraced Bo Xilai trapped in legal limbo: lawyers

Mon Nov 5, 2012 6:34am EST
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By Sui-Lee Wee

BEIJING (Reuters) - Two lawyers for disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai said on Monday they had no idea when his trial might start and that he was stuck in legal limbo despite the opening of a formal criminal investigation into accusations of graft and abuse of power.

Bo, once a contender for top leadership in the world's second largest economy, was ousted in China's biggest political scandal in two decades.

His wife, Gu Kailai, and his former police chief, Wang Lijun, have both been jailed over a scandal that stems from the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood while Bo was Communist Party chief of the southwestern city of Chongqing.

The government has accused Bo of corruption and of bending the law to hush up the murder. Prosecutors formally began a criminal probe into Bo last month but have yet to announce charges.

Two lawyers hired by Bo's family, Li Xiaolin and Shen Zhigeng, told Reuters that nearly two weeks after the official announcement of the criminal investigation, they had not been given permission to either see him or represent him.

"Of course not," Shen said, when asked whether he had seen Bo. "The confirmation (I can represent Bo) hasn't been verified. So how can we see (him)?"

Shen said the trial will be after a key Communist Party congress opening on Thursday in Beijing that will usher in a generational leadership change, and which has been overshadowed by the Bo scandal.

"I do not know," Shen said, referring to when the trial may start, but added that it will be "after the 18th Party Congress."   Continued...

A screen shows a portrait of Xu Qiliang, new vice-chairmen of the Central Military Commission (CMC) of the Communist Party of China (CPC) at a media center for the upcoming 18th National Congress of the CPC, in Beijing November 5, 2012. REUTERS/Jason Lee