NYT: Chinese Official at Center of Scandal Is Found Guilty and Given a Life Term

Note to U.S. legal authorities: please ask why right wing in U.S. is protecting people like this instead of prosecuting and imprisoning them. I thought right wing was tough on crime. I guess for them, it depends upon how people, families and communities are robbed and murdered rather than why. Jamie Dimon, Larry Summers, Robert Rubin, Kenneth Williams, ad nauseam. Here’s my twist on an old saying:

“Steal $500 and go to prison. Steal $5 billion and get stock options and golden parachutes.” ~Via

BEIJING — Bo Xilai, the pugnacious Chinese politician whose downfall shook the Communist Party, was sentenced to life in prison on Sunday after a court found him guilty of bribetaking, embezzlement and abuse of power in a failed attempt to stifle murder allegations against his wife.

The sentence means Mr. Bo, the son of a Communist revolutionary leader, is unlikely to ever return to public life, unless there is an extraordinary reversal in his political fortunes.

Given the Communist Party’s tight control of the judiciary, there was never much doubt that the Jinan Intermediate People’s Court in easternChina would find Mr. Bo guilty. Even before the verdict, commentaries in state-run news media declared that Mr. Bo’s guilt was clear.

Yet until the end, Mr. Bo remained defiant, pleading not guilty and contesting nearly every aspect of the prosecutors’ case during his trial in August. Family associates have said Mr. Bo would most likely appeal his sentence.

Party leaders under President Xi Jinping had hoped that prosecuting Mr. Bo, once an ambitious member of the elite Politburo, would demonstrate the party’s determination to tame the rampant official corruption that has stoked public ire, posing a potential threat to their hold on power. The government orchestrated an unusually public and lengthy trial for Mr. Bo lasting five days, and a court microblog gave the public selective but plentiful and salacious details of the proceedings, which included allegations of adultery by both Mr. Bo and his wife, Gu Kailai.

But the courtroom drama also let the public peer into a privileged world of dizzying wealth and nonchalant excess. Prosecutors described a casual rapport between Mr. Bo’s family and a businessman, Xu Ming, who paid for the travel and the extravagant purchases of Mr. Bo’s wife and younger son, including a $3.2 million villa in France, a $12,000 Segway and a flight aboard a private jet to Tanzania. During the trial, the prosecution said Mr. Bo had taken $4.4 million in bribes and embezzled money. Mr. Bo countered that he had been unaware of the gifts and payments.

The court gave Mr. Bo a small victory. Although it found him culpable for taking bribes worth $3.2 million, it said there was insufficient evidence concerning the air travel, which it said was worth about $218,000.

But many Chinese citizens believe that that lavish lifestyle is typical for families of senior officials, not the depraved aberration presented in state-run news media. And Mr. Bo’s supporters, who have remained vocal despite censorship, have argued that he is the victim of a political vendetta aimed at thwarting his populist ambitions. “The stupidest TV writers couldn’t come up with plots like that,” Mr. Bo said at his trial, responding to the prosecution’s claims.

In a recent letter that he wrote to his family from jail and that has been circulating among his close associates, Mr. Bo asserted his innocence and maintained his trademark defiance, declaring that his name would one day be cleared — much like that of his father, Bo Yibo, who was jailed at least twice by his enemies but emerged to become one of the Communist Party’s most revered luminaries.

Details of the letter, first published by the South China Morning Post, were confirmed by two family associates. “I will follow his footsteps,” Mr. Bo wrote of his father’s rehabilitation. “I will wait quietly in the prison.”

Tong Zhiwei, a professor at East China University of Political Science and Law in Shanghai, said the life sentence was to be expected, given that Mr. Bo remained combative to the end and because he offered little of the contrition expected of fallen officials.

“The fact that he didn’t plead guilty probably led to a heavier sentence” Mr. Tong said. “But on the other hand, it was also relatively lenient, because in the past, not pleading guilty to bribetaking on this scale has been very rare and could bring a death penalty.”

He added that Mr. Bo’s sentence could later be reduced if he showed contrition and behaved well. “There’s that possibility, but he’ll probably have to serve at least a dozen or more years before that’s even possible,” he said.

Like the trial, the hearing during which Mr. Bo was sentenced was closed to foreign journalists, and there was no video feed of the proceedings. According to the Jinan court’s microblog, those allowed inside the courtroom on Sunday included three family members, two associates and 22 members of the news media. “Not only must justice be done; it must also be seen to be done,” the microblog feed said on Saturday.

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