As Bo trial ends in China, prosecutor demands severe punishment

JINAN, China, (Reuters) – Chinese prosecutors demanded a heavy sentence for ousted top politician Bo Xilai as his divisive, dramatic trial ended yesterday, saying his “whimsical” challenge to charges of bribery, graft and abuse of power flew in the face of the evidence.

Bo was a rising star in China’s leadership circles when his career was stopped short last year by a murder scandal in which his 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, has mounted an unexpectedly feisty defence since the trial began on Thursday, denouncing testimony against him by his wife as the ravings of a mad woman.

The court, announcing the end of the five-day trial, said the verdict would come at a later date. It did not provide details, but it could be announced within the next few weeks.

Bo has repeatedly said he is not guilty of any of the charges, although he has admitted to making some bad decisions and to 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.

Summing up the evidence, the state’s prosecutor said Bo should not be shown leniency as he had recanted admissions of guilt provided ahead of the trial.

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