Disgraced Chinese leader Bo Xilai on Saturday acknowledged he had not acted to stop the embezzlement of government funds by his wife, the first time he has admitted to any of the charges against him since his trial began two days ago.
Admitting some responsibility for his wife’s actions, he told the Jinan Intermediate People’s Court in Shandong province, “I am ashamed of it. I was too careless, because this is public money.”
“I failed to retrieve the money later, and that’s a factual statement, but can you say I had the intention to embezzle the money? No,” he said.
Mr. Bo also admitted to his role in coercing a top police official, who feared reprisals from the disgraced Communist Party leader for acting against his wife in the murder of her British business partner.
Rejecting most of the allegations of bribery and embezzlement against him, he said he was ready to assume
“partial responsibility” for Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun’s attempted defection to the U.S. consulate in Chengdu in February last year.
He admitted slapping Mr. Wang when the two had differences over the police chief’s investigation of the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood planned by his wife Gu Kailai.
This is the first time since the high-profile trial began that Mr. Bo — who has been accused of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power — has admitted to any of the charges.
Bo blames wife
While admitting slapping Mr. Wang, Mr. Bo at the same time denied abusing his powers as Chongqing party secretary to protect Ms. Gu or to provide false evidence by forging a medical certificate.
Mr. Bo said that he dismissed Mr. Wang as police chief on February 2, 2012 as he was furious about Mr. Wang because “Gu convinced me she didn’t murder Heywood,” who was reported to be a conduit for the family to shift their ill-gotten wealth abroad.
Mr. Bo said, he assumed Mr. Wang was framing Ms. Gu and slapped him in front of other officials and that Ms. Gu was furious when Mr. Bo confronted her with allegations of her involvement in Heywood’s death.
Ms. Gu reportedly said that Mr. Wang was framing her and showed Mr. Bo, Heywood’s death certificate, which stated that he died of a heart attack brought on by excessive alcohol consumption.
Mr. Bo also told the court that Ms. Gu reacted angrily when she learnt about an extramarital affair he had in the late 1990s.
Wang, Gu testimonies
Mr. Bo on Saturday was confronted with the testimonies of Ms. Gu and Mr. Wang, who are serving prison terms.
Mr. Wang, who personally testified against Mr. Bo, on Saturday blamed the former Communist Party leader for his attempted defection.
He sought refuge in the U.S. mission as Mr. Bo, who then headed the Chongqing city administration, was furious over investigations into the role of his wife Ms. Gu.
The testimonies turned out to be deeply embarrassing for Mr. Bo as Mr. Wang was regarded as his closest aide until the two fell out over the murder probe.
Ms. Gu admitted to the murder of Heywood, a middle man for Mr. Bo’s family, and was sentenced to death with a two-year reprove this year. Mr. Wang was sentenced to 15 years for going to the U.S. consulate to seek asylum.
The court is posting transcripts of the hearings on its account on Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, but no live audio or video is available. Foreign media and independent observers are not present in the courtroom.
Official media said the trial may end on Sunday amid speculation that Mr. Bo himself may be getting a death sentence with two years reprieve.