China releases video of ousted politician’s wifeBy AP News Aug 23, 2013 5:36PM UTC
JINAN, China (AP) — Prosecutors in the trial of disgraced politician Bo Xilai used his own wife to bolster bribery allegations against him, presenting videotaped testimony Friday in which she says a businessman accused of bribing her husband gave their family gifts including airline tickets and a Segway scooter.
Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, set off the scandal that ruined Bo’s career by murdering a British businessman. Among other allegations in China’s messiest political scandal in decades, Bo is accused of interfering with the investigation.
He sought to discredit his wife even before the video was shown in Jinan Intermediate People’s Court. On Thursday, when his trial began, he questioned his wife’s credibility and mental health while fiercely denying that he took $3.5 million in bribes from two businessmen, one of whom he described as a “mad dog” trying to earn credit with authorities.
It is unclear when the video of Gu Kailai was taken. She was convicted of murder in August 2012 and has not been publicly seen since.
Bo, former Communist Party boss of the megacity of Chongqing, has launched an unexpectedly spirited defense in the trial, which is widely believed to have a conviction as its predetermined outcome.
(READ MORE: Who’s who in China’s Bo Xilai political scandal)
In the video, Gu said a businessman accused of bribing Bo was a family friend who did many favors for them in exchange for her husband’s help. The businessman, Xu Ming, is from the northeastern city of Dalian, where Bo was once a top official.
Gu said Xu often paid for the family’s international air tickets and brought gifts that included expensive seafood. She said her son received a Segway — an electric standup scooter — from Xu, and that Bo had been aware of the gifts.
“Xu Ming is our old and longtime friend,” Gu is seen telling her questioner, who identified herself as someone from the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, the country’s top prosecutor’s office. “We had a very good impression of him and believed he was honest and kind, so we trusted him a lot.”
Gu is seen seated at a table in a black-and-white striped shirt in the video, posted on the Jinan court’s microblog. The microblog and court transcripts have provided a rare but possibly incomplete window into the proceedings for the public and for foreign media, which have been barred from the courtroom.
Gu, convicted of murdering businessman Neil Heywood, received a suspended death sentence that may be reduced to life in prison.
Bo is accused of corruption and of interference in the investigation of Heywood’s murder. Prosecutors on Thursday ended months of suspense about details of the bribery charges against him, rolling out accusations that featured a villa in France, a hot-air balloon project and a football club, illustrating how colorful corruption can be in China. The trial was delving further into the bribery allegations Friday before moving on to charges of embezzlement of government funds and abuse of office.
The Communist Party hopes the trial will show that it’s serious about cracking down on widespread corruption in a transparent way despite what is widely believed to be a predetermined conclusion of guilt. Its openness in releasing transcripts of the proceedings underscores its confidence it can weather any damage to its reputation from a case that exposed the illicit machinations of an elite family in China’s communist establishment.
Bo’s defense on Thursday focused on challenging prosecutors’ evidence that he provided political favors to the two businessmen. He said barely knew the men and argued that he was ignorant of the favors they were providing his wife and son.