The case of purged former Polit Bureau member Bo Xilai has been handed over to judicial authorities, Chinese officials said on Wednesday, in an indication that the once powerful Communist Party “princeling” may soon stand trial.
Mr. Bo was expelled from the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 2012 after being implicated in the cover-up of a murder committed by his wife, who was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve in a carefully orchestrated trial in August.
The former Chongqing Party Secretary was also expelled from the National People’s Congress, or Parliament, in October 2012 — a move that stripped him of immunity from criminal prosecution and paved the way for his trial.
With the CPC completing its once-in-a-decade leadership change at its November Party Congress, the case against Mr. Bo was put on the back-burner: the purge of the leader had embarrassed the party — lifting the veil on the abuses of power and rampant corruption in its highest ranks — only weeks before the transfer of power to the party's fifth generation of leaders. Mr. Bo, the son of a once powerful conservative Party elder, Bo Yibo, was seen as having allies who had ties to his father and had supporters on the Left.
In the first indication since the Party Congress that the trial of Mr. Bo may be imminent, the official Xinhua news agency said in a report on Wednesday that the “serious law violation case” involving Mr. Bo had been transferred “to judicial organs”. The report did not give a date for the trial, which is expected to take place in Beijing.
The report, quoting Central Committee of Discipline Inspection spokesman Cui Shaopeng, added that "a total of 4,698 county-level cadres or higher-level cadres were punished by CPC's discipline watchdogs in 2012 and 961 cadres at county-level or above have been transferred to judicial organs".
Sources in Beijing said the CPC may look to finish the trial — which, like that of Gu Kailai's, is likely to be a carefully orchestrated affair with Mr. Bo’s sentence already likely to have been determined in advance following deal-making between various party factions — before the National People’s Congress, or Parliament, convenes in March for its last session under President Hu Jintao.
Newly appointed General Secretary Xi Jinping will take over as President following the Congress, which will see a sweeping transfer of officials across various government ministries. The Polit Bureau indicated following a September 28 meeting last year that Mr. Bo will face a host of charges, ranging from corruption to the abuse of power.