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Disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai found guilty of corruption

Ousted Chinese politician Bo Xilai listens to his verdict in Jinan, Shandong province, on Sunday in this photo released by Jinan Intermediate People's Court.
Ousted Chinese politician Bo Xilai listens to his verdict in Jinan, Shandong province, on Sunday in this photo released by Jinan Intermediate People's Court.Jinan Intermediate People's Court / Reuters

JINAN, China - A Chinese court sentenced ousted senior politician Bo Xilai to life in prison on Sunday after finding him guilty of all the charges he faced of corruption, taking bribes and abuse of power.

The court in Jinan in eastern China, where Bo was tried, also ordered that all his personal assets be seized, according to a transcript carried on the court's official microblog. 

Bo was a rising star in China's leadership circles when his career was stopped short last year by a murder scandal. Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, was convicted of poisoning a British businessman, Neil Heywood, who had been a family friend.

Bo, who was Communist Party chief of the southwestern metropolis of Chongqing, mounted an unexpectedly feisty defence during his trial, denouncing testimony against him by his wife as the ravings of a mad woman.

He repeatedly said he was not guilty of any of the charges, though he admitted making some bad decisions and shaming his country by his handling of former Chongqing police chief, Wang Lijun, who first told Bo that Gu had probably murdered Heywood.

Wang fled to the U.S. consulate in the nearby city of Chengdu in February last year after confronting Bo with evidence that Gu was involved in the murder. Wang was also jailed last year for covering up the crime.

The state prosecutor said Bo should not be shown leniency as he had recanted admissions of guilt provided ahead of his trial.

Senior party figures fear Bo could stage a political comeback one day if he is not dealt a harsh sentence, sources told Reuters after the trial.

A light sentence could undermine President Xi Jinping's pledge to go after corrupt political heavyweights as harshly as those lower down the pecking order.

Bo cultivated a loyal following through his charisma and populist, quasi-Maoist policies, especially among those left out in the cold by China's anything-for-growth economic policies.

"The dissatisfaction certainly will remain, but I'm sure even when such dissatisfaction bursts up again, they will find other representatives, other spokespersons," said Joseph Cheng, a political science professor at City University in Hong Kong.

"So his political comeback is unlikely."