BEIJING (Reuters) - The trial of disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai could begin as early as this week, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday, marking the beginning of the end of China's most sensational scandal in decades.
The trial is most likely to take place in the eastern city of Jinan, said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity to avoid repercussions for talking to a foreign reporter about elite politics.
Bo is likely to be tried on charges of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power, according to reports in Hong Kong media.
Hong Kong's South China Morning Post, citing unidentified sources, said details of the charges against Bo had been read out at meetings of government officials in his former power base of Chongqing and other cities.
Calls to the Intermediate People's Court in Jinan went unanswered.
One of Bo's lawyers, Li Guifang, contacted by Reuters, said it was "inconvenient to speak". He later turned off his mobile telephone.
Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, and his former police chief, Wang Lijun, have both been jailed over China's biggest political scandal in years, which stems from the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood in November 2011.
The government in September last year accused Bo of corruption and of bending the law to hush up the murder.
China's prosecutors and courts come under Communist Party control and are most unlikely to challenge its accusations, though formal charges have yet to be publicly announced.
Bo was ousted from his post as Communist Party chief in the southwestern city of Chongqing last year after Heywood's murder.
Before that, Bo had been widely tipped to be promoted to the party's elite inner core.
His downfall came after his estranged police chief, Wang, fled briefly to a U.S. consulate in the neighboring city of Chengdu in February last year and accused Bo's wife of poisoning Heywood.
Bo, a former commerce minister, used his post as Communist Party chief of Chongqing from 2007 to 2012 to cast the sprawling, haze-covered municipality into a showcase for his mix of populist policies and bold spending plans that won support from leftists yearning for a charismatic leader.
Rumors have swirled in China about Bo's fate, but the government has given no definitive word on progress into the investigation against him since late last year.
Another Hong Kong newspaper, the Beijing-backed Ta Kung Pao, reported in January that Bo was about to be tried in the southern city of Guiyang, which sent dozens of reporters flocking to the courthouse.
The report turned out to be untrue.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Benjamin Kang Lim; Additional reporting by Lucy Hornby; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Robert Birsel)
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