China keeps mum on Bo trial despite talk it could start on Monday

Sun Jan 27, 2013 5:43am EST
 

By Ben Blanchard

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's government is giving no details on the trial of shamed senior leader Bo Xilai, the final chapter in its worst political scandal in decades, as speculation mounted the case could be heard as early as Monday.

A Beijing-backed Hong Kong newspaper, the Ta Kung Pao, reported on Friday that Bo's trial would begin on Monday in the southern Chinese city of Guiyang.

But the government has not confirmed or denied this, belying recent efforts to promote transparency and openness, and at least two well-informed sources said on Sunday the reports were not true.

However, a third source, who has ties to the leadership, said the trial would in fact begin on Monday in Guiyang.

It was not immediately possible to reconcile the conflicting reports. Reuters reporters in Guiyang said they could see no signs of heightened security so far, either around the main courthouse or in any other part of the city.

Once a contender for China's top leadership, Bo was ousted from his post as Communist Party chief in the southwestern city of Chongqing last year following his wife's murder of a British businessman, Neil Heywood.

Bo, 63, was widely tipped to be promoted to the party's elite inner core before his career unraveled. The downfall came after his former police chief, Wang Lijun, fled briefly to a U.S. consulate for last February and alleged that Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, had murdered Heywood with poison.

Gu and Wang have both since been convicted and jailed.   Continued...

 
China's former Chongqing Municipality Communist Party Secretary Bo Xilai attends a session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) of the Chongqing Municipal Committee, in Chongqing municipality, January 26, 2008. REUTERS/Stringer