Bo Xilai, a former top official of the Chinese Communist Party whose promising career came to an end following a scandal relating to the murder of a British businessman, was indicted on Thursday on charges of bribery, corruption and abuse of power, state-run news agency Xinhua reported.
Bo was charged by prosecutors in Jinan, in the eastern Chinese province of Shandong, Xinhua said. The charge sheet said Bo abused his official stature to seek profits for others and received an “extremely large amount” of money and property in return. He also embezzled “a huge amount of public money” and “seriously harmed the interests of the state and people,” the document said.
The indictment means that a trial is imminent, possibly within weeks, although no timeframe has been yet announced. Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, and his former police chief, Wang Lijun, faced trials and were jailed last year, in connection with the November 2011 murder of businessman and family friend Neil Heywood, whose relationship with Bo's family had deteriorated over financial disputes.
A party internal document said Bo would be tried on charges of accepting 20 million yuan ($3.2 million) in bribes through his wife, embezzling funds worth five million yuan and abusing power, an official who received the document on Wednesday, told the Wall Street Journal.
Bo, a former finance minister, was in the Communist Party’s 25-member Politburo. Before the scandal hit, he was seen as a contender for the nine-member Standing Committee, the country’s highest decision-making body.
He's the latest high-profile casualty in an anticorruption drive launched in November after current President Xi Jinping took over as the party's leader.
The indictment closely follows a new campaign launched in June under Xi’s government against decadent practices within the Communist Party of China, which he called “formalism, bureaucratism, hedonism and extravagance.”
“Winning or losing public support is an issue that concerns the CPC’s survival or extinction,” Xi said in June, stressing that improving public support is the lifeline of the party.
The trial of Bo who has been in detention since April 2012 has been long-awaited and is expected to finally wrap up the murder case, which exposed corruption, abuse and power politics among top officials of the ruling party of China.
Bo's wife was found guilty in August 2012 of murdering Heywood and was handed down a suspended death sentence, which is usually reduced to a life sentence.