Dead end trail to Bo trial in China's south

Mon Jan 28, 2013 4:39am EST
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By John Ruwitch

GUIYANG, China (Reuters) - China scotched reports that disgraced politician Bo Xilai's much anticipated trial would open on Monday, amid chaotic scenes at a courthouse packed with expectant journalists in the south of the country.

A report last week in a Beijing-backed Hong Kong newspaper prompted dozens of reporters to travel to the sleepy city of Guiyang expecting to cover the trial of the man who was once considered a contender for China's top leadership. The paper has been known to reliably report news Chinese state media won't touch.

Flummoxed, local court officials held a hasty and unusual press conference to deny a trial was in the offing and pleaded for the media to leave them alone.

Almost a year after Bo's fall from grace under a cloud of lurid accusations about corruption, abuse of power and murder, the government has given no definitive timeframe for when Bo will face the courts, or even announced formal charges.

"To date, the Intermediate People's Court of Guiyang has received no information whatsoever about the trial of Bo Xilai taking place in Guiyang," said Jiang Hao, deputy head of the Guiyang court.

"If the next step is to hold the Bo Xilai trial in Guiyang's court, then, as according to rules, we will inform our media friends promptly," Jiang told about 30 reporters crammed into a small room inside the court.

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.   Continued...

A man leaves the Guiyang Intermediate People's Court in Guiyang January 28, 2013. The trial of disgraced senior Chinese leader Bo Xilai will not be held in a southern Chinese city on Monday as some media had reported, a court official said. REUTERS/Jason Lee LAW)