China jails ex-police chief, closes in on disgraced Bo

September 24, 2012

(Reuters) – A Chinese court jailed ex-police chief Wang Lijun for 15 years on Monday after finding him guilty on four charges, including seeking to conceal the murder of a British businessman, in a scandal that felled the ambitious politician, Bo Xilai.

The court in Chengdu in southwest China said Wang received the sentence for “bending the law for selfish ends, defection, abuse of power and bribe-taking”, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.

The court found that Wang, the former police chief of Chongqing municipality in southwest China, tried to cover up the murder of a British businessman Neil Heywood in November 2011 by Gu Kailai, the wife of Bo, one of China’s most controversial politicians.

With Gu already jailed, and Wang now joining her, the ruling Communist Party must next decide what to do with Bo, whose contentious downfall has dogged a leadership handover due to take place at a party congress as early as next month.

Wang sealed his fate at a trial a week ago by admitting the charges, according to an official account of the hearing published by Xinhua news agency. Only official media outlets were allowed inside the courtroom.

The main charges stem from a cascade of events triggered by Heywood’s murder. Officials have said the murder itself arose from a business dispute in Chongqing, the riverside municipality that Bo and Wang made into their fiefdom.

After first helping Gu evade suspicion of poisoning Heywood, Wang then kept evidence of the murder, according to the official account of Wang’s trial. In late January, Wang confronted Bo with the allegation that Gu was suspected of killing Heywood. But Wang was “angrily rebuked and had his ears boxed”.

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